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John Galen Howard 




THE QUEST OF FAITH : Being Notes on the Current 
Philosophy of Religion. 


with Aphorisms on Science selected by the late PROFESSOR 
HUXLEY, and on Art by the late LORD LEIGHTON. 


1. The Wisdom of Life. 

2. Counsels and Maxims. 

3. Religion, a Dialogue and other Essays. 

4. The Art of Literature. 

5. Studies in Pessimism. 

6. The Art of Controversy. 

7. On Human Nature. 



a 5erte0 of 00390 



Vitam imptndtrt vtro. JUVENAL. 






FIRST EDITION, November 1890 ; SECOND EDITION, November 1891 } 
THIRD EDITION, December 1893 ; FOURTH EDITION, December 1897 ; 
FIFTH EDITION, February 1900 ; SIXTH EDITION, January 1903 J 
SEVENTH EDITION, March 2906. EIGHTH EDITION, September 1908. 
NINTH EDITION, November 1913 






THE Essays here presented form a further selection from 
Schopenhauer's Parerga, brought together under a title 
which is not to be found in the original, and does not 
claim to apply to every chapter in the volume. The first 
essay is, in the main, a rendering of the philosopher's 
remarks under the heading of Nachtr&ge zur Lehre vom 
Leiden der Welt, together with certain parts of another 
section entitled Nachtrdge zur Lehre von der Bejahung und 
Verneinung des Willens zum Leben. Such omissions as I 
have made are directed chiefly by the desire to avoid re- 
peating arguments already familiar to readers of the other 
volumes in this series. The Dialogue, on Immortality sums 
up views expressed at length in the philosopher's chief 
work, and treated again in the Parerga. The Psychological 
Observations in this and the previous volume practically 
exhaust the chapter of the original which bears this title. 

The essay on Women must not be taken in jest. It ex- 
presses Schopenhauer's serious convictions ; and, as a pene- 
trating observer of the faults of humanity, he may be 
allowed a hearing on a question which is just now receiving 
a good deal of attention among us, 

T. B. a 










ON NOISE - - - 125 




UNLESS suffering is the direct and immediate object 
of life, our existence must entirely fail of its aim. It 
is absurd to look upon the enormous amount of pain 
that abounds everywhere in the world, and originates 
in needs and necessities inseparable from life itself, 
aa serving no purpose at all and the result of mere 
chance. Each separate misfortune, as it comes, seems, 
no doubt, to be something exceptional ; but misfortune 
in general is the rule. 

I know of ho greater absurdity than that pro- 
pounded by most systems of philosophy in declaring 
evil to be negative in its character. Evil is just what 
is positive ; it makes its own existence felt. Leibnitz 
is particularly concerned to defend this absurdity ; 
and he seeks to strengthen his position by using a 
palpable and paltry sophism. 1 It is the good which is 
negative ; in other words, happiness and satisfaction 
always imply some desire fulfilled, some state of pain 
brought to an end. 

This explains the fact that we generally find 

1 Translator's Note, cf. Tlidod: 153. Leibnitz argued that 
evil is a negative quality i.e., the absence of good ; and that 
its active and seemingly positive character is an incidental and 
not an essential part of its nature. Cold, he said, is only the 
absence of the power of heat, and the active power of expansion 
in freezing water is an incidental and not an essential part of the 
nature of cold. The fact is that the power of expansion in 
freezing water is really an increase of repulsion amongst its 
molecules ; and Schopenhauer is quite right in calling the whole 
argument a sophism. 


pleasure to be not nearly so pleasant as we expected, 
and pain very much more painful 

The pleasure in this world, it has been said, out- 
weighs the pain; or, at any rate, there is an even 
balance between the two. If the reader wishes to see 
shortly whether this statement is true, let him com- 
pare the respective feelings of two animals, one of 
which is engaged in eating the other. 

The best consolation in misfortune or affliction of 
any kind will be the thought of other people who are 
in a still worse plight than yourself; and this is a 
form of consolation open to every one. But what an 
awful fate this means for mankind as a whole ! 

We are like lambs in a field, disporting themselves 
under the eye of the butcher, who chooses out first 
one and then another for his prey. So it is that in 
our good days we are all unconscious of the evil Fate 
may have presently in store for us sickness, poverty, 
mutilation, loss of sight or reason. 

No little part of the torment of existence lies in 
this, that Time is continually pressing upon us, never 
letting us take breath, but always coming after us 
like a taskmaster with a whip. If at any moment 
Time stays his hand, it is only when we are delivered 
over to the misery of boredom. 

But misfortune has its uses; for, as our bodily 
frame would burst asunder if the pressure of the 
atmosphere were removed, so, if the lives of men 
were relieved of all need, hardship and adversity; if 
everything they took in hand were successful, they 
would be so swollen with arrogance that, though they 
might not burst, they would present the spectacle of 


unbridled folly nay, they would go mad. And I 
may say, further, that a certain amount of care or 
pain or trouble is necessary for every man at all 
times. A ship without ballast is unstable and will 
not go straight. 

Certain it is that work, worry, Idbov/r and trouble,^ 
form the lot of almost all men their whole life long. 
But if all wishes were fulfilled as soon as they arose, 
how would men occupy their lives ? what would they 
do with their time ? If the world were a paradise of 
luxury and ease, a land flowing with milk and honey, 
where every Jack obtained his Jill at once and with- 
out any difficulty, men would either die of boredom or 
hang themselves ; or there would be wars, massacres, 
and murders ; so that in the end mankind would in- 
flict more suffering on itself than it has now to 
accept at the hands of Nature. 

In early youth, as we contemplate our coming life, 
we are like children in a theatre before the curtain is 
raised, sitting there in high spirits and eagerly wait- 
ing for the play to begin. It is a blessing that we c 1 * 
not know what is really going to happen. Could we 
foresee it, there are times when children might seem 
like innocent prisoners, condemned, not to death, but 
to life, and as yet all unconscious of what their 
sentence means. Nevertheless every man desires to 
reach old age; in other words, a state of life of 
which it may be said : " It is bad to-day, and it 
will be worse to-morrow; and so on till the worst 
of all" 

If you try to imagine, as nearly as you can, what 
an amount of misery, pain and suffering of every kind 


the sun shines upon in its course, you will admit that 
it would be much better if on the earth as little as 
on the moon the sun were able to call forth the 
phenomena of life ; and if, here as there, the surface 
were still in a crystalline state. 

Again, you may look upon life as an unprofitable 
episode, disturbing the blessed calm of non-existence. 
And, in any case, even though things have gone with 
you tolerably well, the longer you live the more 
clearly you will feel that, on the whole, life is a dis- 
appointment, nay, a cheat. 

If two men who were friends in their youth meet 
again when they are old, after being separated for a 
life-time, the chief feeling they will have at the sight 
of each other will be one of complete disappointment 
at life as a whole ; because their thoughts will be 
carried back to that earlier time when life seemed so 
fair as it lay spread out before them in the rosy light 
of dawn, promised so much and then performed so 
little. This feeling will so completely predominate 
over every other that they will not even consider it 
necessary to give it words ; but on either side it will 
be silently assumed, and form the ground-work of all 
they have to talk about. 

He who lives to see iwo or three generations is like 
a man who sits some time in the conjurer's booth at a 
fair, and witnesses the performance twice or thrice in 
succession. The tricks were meant to be seen only 
once ; and when they are no longer a novelty and 
cease to deceive their effect is gone. 

While no man is much to be envied for his lot, there 
are countless numbers whose fate is to be deplored. 


Life is a task to be done. It is a fine thing to say de~ 
functus est; it means that the man has done his task. 

If children were brought into the world by an act ^ 
of pure reason alone, would the human race continue 
to exist ? Would not a man rather have so much 
sympathy with the coming generation as to spare it 
the burden of existence ? or at any rate not take it 
upon himself to impose that burden upon it in cold 

\ shall be told, 1 suppose, that my philosophy is 
^comfortless because I speak the truth; and people 
prefer to be assured that everything the Lord has 
made is good. Go to the priests, then, and leave 
philosophers in peace ! At any rate, do not ask us to 
accommodate our doctrines to the lessons you have 
been taught. That is what those rascals of sham 
philosophers will do for you. Ask them for any 
doctrine you please, and you will get it. Your 
University professors are bound to preach optimism ; 
and it is an easy and agreeable task to upset their 

\I have reminded the reader that every state of^ 
welfare, every feeling of satisfaction, is negative in its 
character ; that is to say, it consists in freedom from * 
pain, which is the positive element of existence.) It 
follows, therefore, that the happiness of any given life 
is to be measured, not by its joys and pleasures, but by 
the extent to which it has been free from suffering 
from positive evil. If this is the true standpoint, the 
lower animals appear to enjoy a happier destiny than 
man. Let us examine the matter a little more closely. 

However varied the forms that human happiness v 


and misery may take, leading a man to seek the on 
and shun the other, the material basis of it all IB 
bodily pleasure or bodily pain. This basis is very 
restricted : it is simply health, food, protection from 
wet and cold, the satisfaction of the sexual instinct ; 
or else the absence of these things. Consequently, as 
far as real physical pleasure is concerned, the man is 
not better off than the brute, except in so far as the 
higher possibilities of his nervous system make him 
more sensitive to every kind of pleasure, but also, it 
must be remembered, to every kind of pain. But 
then compared with the brute, how much stronger 
are the passions aroused in him ! what an immeasurable 
difference there is in the depth and vehemence of his 
emotions ! and yet, in the one case, as in the other, 
all to produce the same result in the end : namely, 
health, food, clothing, and so on. 

The chief source of all this passion is that thought 
for what is absent and future, which, with man, 
exercises such a powerful influence upon all he does. 
It is this that is the real origin of his cares, his hopes 
his fears emotions which affect him much more 
deeply than could ever be the case with those present 
joys and sufferings to which the brute is confined. In 
his powers of reflection, memory and foresight, man 
possesses, as it were, a machine for condensing and 
storing up his pleasures and his sorrows. But the 
brute has nothing of the kind ; whenever it is in pain, 
it is as though it were suffering for the first time, even 
though the same thing should have previously 
.happened to it times out of number. It has no power 
of Bumming up its feelings. Hence its careless and 


placid temper : how much it is to be en vie d ! But in 
man rp f flf!ft f iQn comes in, with all the emotions tc 
which it gives rise ; and taking up the same elements 
of pleasure and pain which are common to him and 
the brute, it developes his susceptibility to happiness 
and misery to such a degree that, at one moment the 
man is brought in an instant to a state of delight that 
may even prove fatal, at another to the depths of de- 
spair and suicide. 

If we carry our analysis a step farther, we shall 
find that, in order to increase his pleasures, man has 
intentionally added to the number and pressure of his 
needs, which in their original state were not much 
more difficult to satisfy than those of the brute. 
Hence luxury in all its forms : delicate food, the use 
of tobacco and opium, spirituous liquors, tine clothes 
and the thousand and one things that he considers 
necessary to his existence. 

And above and beyond all this, there is a separate 
and peculiar source of pleasure, and consequently of 
pain, which man has established for himself, also as 
the result of using his powers of reflection ; and this 
occupies him out of all proportion to its value, nay, 
almost more than all his other interests put together 
\I mean ambition and the feeling of honour and shame ; 
in plain words, what he thinks about the opinion other 
people have of him. Taking a thousand forms, often 
very strange ones, this becomes the goal of almost all 
the efforts he makes that are not rooted in physical 
pleasure or pain. It is true that besides the sources 
of pleasure which he has in common with the brute, 
man has the pleasures of the mind as well. Theao 


admit of many gradations, from the most innocent 
trifling or the merest talk up to the highest intellectual 
achievements ; but there is the accompanying boredom 
to be set against them on the side of suffering 
Boredom is a form of suffering unknown to brutes, at 
any rate in their natural state ; it is only the very 
cleverest of them who show faint traces of it when 
they are domesticated ; whereas in the case of man it 
has become a downright scourge. \ The crowd of miser- 
able wretches whose one aim in life is to till their 
purses, but never to put anything into their heads, 
offers a singular instance of this torment of boredom^ 
Their wealth becomes a punishment by delivering 
them up to the misery of having nothing to do ; for, 
to escape it, they will rush about in all directions, 
travelling here, there and everywhere. No sooner do 
they arrive in a place than they are anxious to know 
what amusements it affords ; just as though they were 
beggars asking where they could receive a dole ! Of 
a truthjneed and boredom are the two poles of human 
life. 7 Finally, I may mention that as regards the sexual 
relation, man is committed to a peculiar arrangement 
which drives him obstinately to choose one person. 
This feeling grows, now and then, into a more or less 
passionate love, 1 which is the source of little pleasure 
and much suffering. 

It is, however, a wonderful thing that the mere 
addition of thought should serve to raise such a vast 
and lofty structure of human happiness and misery; 
resting, too, on the same narrow basis of^ joy and 

1 1 have treated this subject at length in a special chapter ol 
the second volume of nay chief work. 


sorrow as man holds in common with the brute, and 
exposing him to such violent emotions, to so many 
storms of passion, so much convulsion of feeling, that 
what he has suffered stands written and may be read 
in the lines on his face. And yet, when all is told, he 
lias been struggling ultimately for the very same 
things as the brute has attained, and with an incom- 
parably smaller expenditure of passion and pain. 

But all this contributes to increase the measure of 
suffering in human life out of all proportion to its 
pleasures; and the pains of life are made much 
worse for man by the fact that death is something 
very real to him. The brute flies from death in- 
stinctively without really knowing what it is, and 
therefore without ever contemplating it in the way 
natural to a man, who has this prospect always be- 
fore his eyes. So that even if only a few brutes die 
a natural death, and most of them live only just long 
enough to transmit their species, and then, if not 
earlier, become the prey of some other animal, whilst 
man, on the other hand, manages to make so-called 
natural death the rule, to which, however, there are 
a good many exceptions, the advantage is on the side 
of the brute, for the reason stated above. But the fact 
is that man attains the natural term of years just as 
seldom as the brute ; because the unnatural way in 
which he lives, and the strain of work and emotion, 
lead to a degeneration of the race ; and so his goal is 
not often reached. 

The brute is much more content with mere exist- 
ence than man ; the plant is wholly so ; and man 
finds satisfaction in it just in proportion as he is dull 


and obtuse. Accordingly, the life of the brute carries 
less of sorrow with it, but also less of joy, when com- 
pared with the life of man ; and while this may be 
traced, on the one side, to freedom from the torment 
of care and anxiety, ii is also due to the fact that hope, 
in any real sense, is unknown to the brute. :It is 
thus deprived of any share in that which gives us the 
most and the best of our joys and pleasures, the 
mental anticipation of a happy future, and the in- 
spiriting play of phantasy, both of which we owe to 
power^of imagination. If the brute is free from 
care, it is also, in this sense, without hope; in either 
case because its consciousness is limited to the present 
moment, to what it can actually see before it. The 
brute is an embodiment of present impulses, and 
hence what elements of fear and hope exist in its 
nature and they do not go very far arise only in 
relation to objects that lie before it and within reach 
of those impulses : whereas a man's range of vision 
embraces the whole of his life, and extends far into 
the past and the future. 

""Following upon this, there is one respect in which 
brutes show real wisdom when compared with us I 
mean their quiet, placid enjoyment of the present 
moment. The tranquillity of mind which this seems 
to give them often puts us to shame for the many 
times we allow our thoughts and our cares to make 
us restless and discontented. And, in fact, those 
pleasures of hope and anticipation which I have been 
mentioning are not to be had for nothing. The de- 
light which a man has in hoping for and looking 
forward to some special satisfaction is a part of the 


real pleasure attaching to it enjoyed in advance. This 
Ts afterwards deducted ; for the more we look forward 
to anything the less satisfaction we find in it when it 
conies. But the brute's enjoyment is not anticipated 
and therefore suffers no deduction ; so that the actual 
pleasure of the moment comes to it whole and unim- 
paired. In the same way, too, evil presses upon the 
brute only with its own intrinsic weight; whereas 
with us the fear of its coming often makes its burden 
ten times more grievous. 

It is just this characteristic way in which the brute 
gives itself up entirely to the present moment that 
contributes so much to the delight we take in our 
domestic pets. They are the present moment personi- 
fied, and in some respects they make us feel the value 
of every hour that is free from trouble and annoy- 
ance, which we, with our thoughts and preoccupations, 
mostly disregard. But man, that selfish and heartless 
creature, misuses this quality of the brute to be 
more content than we are with mere existence, and 
often works it to such an extent that he allows the 
brute absolutely nothing more than mere, bare life. The 
bird which was made so that it might rove over half 
the world, he shuts up into the space of a cubic foot, 
there to die a slow death in longing and crying for 
freedom ; for in a cage it does not sing for the plea- 
sure of it And when I see how man misuses the dog, 
his best friend ; how he ties up this intelligent animal 
with a chain, I feel the deepest sympathy with the 
brute and burning indignation against its master. 

We shall see later that by taking a very high 
standpoint it is possible to justify the sufferings of 


mankind. But this justification cannot apply to 
animals, whose sufferings, while in a great measure 
brought about by men, are often considerable even 
apart from their agency. 1 And so we are forced to 
ask, Why and for what purpose does all this torment 
and agony exist ? There is nothing here to give the 
will pause ; it is not free to deny itself and so obtain 
redemption. There is only one consideration that 
may serve to explain the sufferings of animals. It is 
this : that the will to live, which underlies the whole 
world of phenomena, must in their case satisfy its 
cravings by feeding upon itself. This it does by 
forming a gradation of phenomena, every one of which 
exists at the expense of another. I have shown, how- 
ever, that the capacity for suffering is less in animals 
than in man. Any further explanation that may be 
given of their fate will be in the nature of hypothesis, 
if not actually mythical in its character ; and I may 
leave the reader to speculate upon the matter for 

Brahma is said to have produced the world by a 
kind of fall or mistake ; and in order to atone for his 
folly he is bound to remain in it himself until he 
works out his redemption. As an account of the 
origin of things, that is admirable ! According to the 
doctrines of Buddhism, the world came into being as 
the result of some inexplicable disturbance in the 
heavenly calm of Nirvana, that blessed state obtained 
by expiation, which had endwed so long a time 
the change taking place by a kind of fatality. This 

1 Of. Welt alt Will* w\d VortteUwig, vol ii, p. 404. 


explanation must be understood as having at bottom 
some moral bearing ; although it is illustrated by an 
exactly parallel theory in the domain of physical 
science, which places the origin of the sun in a primi- 
tive streak of mist, formed one knows not how. 
Subsequently, by a series of moral errors, the world*-' 
became gradually worse and worse true of the 
physical orders as well until it assumed the dismal 
aspect it wears to-day. Excellent ! The Greeks 
looked upon the world and the gods as the work of 
an inscrutable necessity. A passable explanation: we 
may be content with it until we can get a better. 
Again, Ormuzd and Ahriman are rival powers, con- 
tinually at war. That is not bad. But that a God 
like Jehovah should have created this world of misery 
and woe, out of pure caprice, and because he enjoyed 
doing it, and should then have clapped his hands in 
praise of his own work, and declared everything to be 
very good that will not do at all ! In its explana- 
tion of the origin of the world, Judaism is inferior to 
any other form of religious doctrine professed by a 
civilised nation ; and it is quite in keeping with this 
that it is the only one which presents no trace what* 
ever of any belief in the immortality of the soul. 1 

Even though Leibnitz' contention, that this is the ^ 
best of all possible worlds, were correct, that would 
not justify God in having created it. For he is the 
Creator not of the world only, but of possibility 
itself; and, therefore, he ought to have so ordered 
possibility as that it would admit of something 

1 See Pwrerga, yol i pp. 136 et $*$. 


There are two things which make it impossible to 
believe that this world is the successful work of an 
all- wise, all-good, and, at the same time, all-powerful 
Being ; firstly, the misery which abounds in it every- 
where ; and secondly, the obvious imperfection of its 
highest product, man, who is a burlesque of what he 
should be. These things cannot be reconciled with 
any such belief. On the contrary, they are just the 
facts which support what I have been saying ; they 
are our authority for viewing the world as the out- 
come of our own misdeeds, and therefore, as some- 
thing that had better not have been. Whilst, under 
the former hypothesis, they amount to a bitter 
accusation against the Creator, and supply material 
for sarcasm ; under the latter they form an indict- 
ment against our own nature, our own will, and teach 
us a lesson of humility. They lead us to see that, like 
the children of a libertine, we come into the world 
with the burden of sin upon us; and that it is 
only through having continually to atone for this 
sin that our existence is so miserable, and that its 
end is death. 

There is nothing more certain than the general 
truth that it is the grievous sin of the world which 
has produced the grievous suffering of the world. 1 
am not referring here to the physical connection be- 
tween these two things lying in the realm of experience ; 
iny meaning is metaphysical Accordingly, the sole 
thing that reconciles me to the Old Testament is the 
story of the Fall. In my eyes, it is the only meta- 
physical truth in that book, even though it appears 
in the form of an allegory. -sThere seems to me no 


better explanation of our existence than that it is the 
result of some false step, some sin of which we are 
paying the penalty^ I cannot refrain from recom- 
mending the thoughtful reader a popular, but, at the 
came time, profound treatise on this subject by 
Claudius 1 which exhibits the essentially pessimistic 
spirit of Christianity. It is entitled: Cursed is the 
ground for thy sake. 

Between the ethics of the Greeks and the ethics of 
the Hindoos, there is a glaring contrast. In the one 
case (with the exception, it must be confessed, of 
Plato), the object of ethics is to enable a man to lead 
a happy life ; in the other, it is to free and redeem 
him from life altogether as is directly stated in the 
very first words of the Sankhya Karika. 

Allied with this is the contrast between the Greek 
and the Christian idea of death. It is strikingly 
presented in a visible form on a fine antique sarco- 
phagus in the gallery at Florence, which exhibits, in 
relief, the whole series of ceremonies attending a 
wedding in ancient times, from the formal offer to 
the evening when Hymen's torch lights the happy 
couple home. Compare with that the Christian 
coffin, draped in mournful black and surmounted 
with a crucifix ! How much significance there is in 
these two ways of finding comfort in death. They 

1 Translators Note. Matthias Claudius (1740-1815), a popular 
poet, and friend of Klopstock, Herder and Lessing. He edited 
the Wandsbecker Bote, in the fourth part of which appeared the 
treatise mentioned above. He generally wrote under the 
pseudonym of -4swus, and Schopenhauer often refers to him by 
this name. 


are opposed to each other, but each is right. 
The one points to the affirmation of the w^ill to live, 
which remains sure of life for all time, however 
rapidly its forms may change. The other, in the 
symbol of suffering and death, points to the denial of 
the will to live, to redemption from this world, the 
domain of death and devil. And in the question 
between the affirmation and the denial of the will to 
live, Christianity is in the last resort right. 

The contrast which the New Testament presents 
when compared with the old, according to the 
ecclesiastical view of the matter, is just that existing 
between my ethical system and the moral philosophy 
of Europe. The Old Testament represents man as 
under the dominion of Law, in which, however, there 
is no redemption. The New Testament declares 
Law to have failed, frees man from its dominion, 1 
and in its stead preaches the kingdom of grace, to be 
won by faith, love of neighbour and entire sacrifice of 
self. This is the path of redemption from the evil of 
the world. The spirit of the New Testament is un- 
doubtedly asceticism, however your protestants and 
rationalists may twist it to suit their purpose. 
Asceticism is the denial of the will to live ; and the 
transition from the old Testament to the New, from 
the dominion of Law to that of Faith, from justifica- 
tion by works to redemption through the Mediator, 
from the domain of sin and death to eternal life in 
Christ, means, when taken in its real sense, the 
transition from the merely moral virtues to the denial 
of the will to live, f My philosophy shows the meta- 
1 Of. Romans vii j Galatians ii., lit 


physical foundation of justice and the love of man- 
kind, and points to the goal to which these virtues 
necessarily lead, if they are practised in perfection.) 
At the same time it is candid in confessing that a 
man must turn his back upon the world, and that the 
denial of the will to live is the way of redemption. 
It is therefore really at one with the spirit of the 
New Testament, whilst all other systems are couched 
in the spirit of the Old ; that is to say, theoretically 
as well as practically, their result is Judaism mere 
despotic theism. In this sense, then, my doctrine 
might be called the only true Christian philosophy- 
however paradoxical a statement this may seem to 
people who take superficial views instead of penetrat- 
ing to the heart of the matter. 

flf you want a safe compass to guide you through 
lije, and to banish all doubt as to the right way of 
looking at it, you cannot do better than accustom 
yourself to regard this world as a penitentiary, a sorfc 
of penal colony, or cpyaumfjpiov, as the earliest philo- 
sophers called A 1 Amongst the Christian Fathers, 
Origen, with praiseworthy courage, took this view, 1 
which is further justified by certain objective theories 
of life. I refer, not to my own philosophy alone, but 
to the wisdom of all ages, as expressed in Brahmanism 
and Buddhism, and in the sayings of Greek philo- 
sophers like Empedocles and Pythagoras ; as also by 
Cicero, in his remark that the wise men of old used to 
teach that we come into this world to pay the penalty 
of crime committed in another state of existence a 

1 Cf. Clem. Alex. Strom, L. iii., c. 3, p. 399. 
* Augustine de civitate Dei., L. xi. c. 23, 


doctrine which formed part of the initiation into the 
mysteries. 1 And Vanini whom his contemporaries 
burned, finding that an easier task than to confute 
him puts the same thing in a very forcible way. 
Man, he says, is so full of every kind of misery 
that, were it not repugnant to the Christian religion, 
I should venture to affirm that if evil spirits exist 
at all they have passed into human form and are 
now atoning for their crimes. 2 And true Christianity 
using the word in its right sense also regards our 
existence as the consequence of sin and error. 

If you accustom yourself to this view of life you 
will regulate your expectations accordingly, and cease 
to look upon all its disagreeable incidents, great and 
small, its sufferings, its worries, its misery, as anything 
unusual or irregular ; nay, you will find that every- 
^ thing is as it should be, in a world where each of us 
pays the penalty of existence in his own peculiar 
way. j Amongst the evils of a penal colony is the 
society of those who form it ; and if the reader is 
worthy of better company, he will need no words 
from me to remind him of what he has to put up with 
at present. If he has a soul above the common, or if 
he is a man of genius, he will occasionally feel like 
some noble prisoner of state, condemned to work in 
the galleys with common criminals ; and he will 
follow his example and try to isolate himself. 

fin general, however, it should be said that this 
view of life will enable us to contemplate the so- 
called imperfections of the great majority of men 

1 Cf . Fragmenta de philosoph'ia. 

* De admirandis natures orami* ; dial L. p. 35 


their moral and intellectual deficiencies and the 
resulting base type of countenance, without any sur- 
prise, to say nothing of indignation ; for we shall 
never cease to reflect where we are, and that the men 
about us are beings conceived and born in sin, and 
living to atone for it. That is what Christianity 
means in speaking of the sinful nature of manj 

Pardon's the word to all ! l Whatever folly men 
commit, be their shortcomings or their vices what they 
may, let us exercise forbearance ; remembering that 
when these faults appear in others it is our follies 
and vices that we behold. They are the shortcomings of 
humanity, to which we belong ; whose faults, one and 
all, we share ; yes, even those very faults at which wo 
now wax so indignant, merely because they have not 
yet appeared in ourselves. They are faults that do not 
lie on the surface. But they exist down there in the 
depths of our nature ; and should anything call them 
forth they will come and show themselves, just as 
we now see them in others. One man, it is true, may 
have faults that are absent in his fellow; and it 
is undeniable that the sum total of bad qualities is in 
some cases very large ; for the difference of individual- 
ity between man and man passes all measure. 

In fact, the conviction that the world and man is 
something that had better not have been is of a kind 
to fill us with indulgence towards one another. Nay, 
from this point of view, we might well consider the 
proper form of address to be, not Monsieur, Sir, mein 
Herr, but my feUow-sufferer, Sod malorum, com- 
pagnon de miseres ! This may perhaps sound strange, 
1 " Cymbeline," Act T. Sc. 6. 


but it is in keeping with the jacts ; it puts others in a 
right light ; and it reminds us of that which is after 
all the most necessary thing in life the tolerance, 
patience, regard, and love of neighbour, of which 
everyone stands in need, and which, therefore, every 
man owes to his fellow. 



THIS vanity finds expression in the whole way in 
which things exist ; in the infinite nature of Time and 
Space, as opposed to the finite nature of the in- 
dividual in both; in the ever-passing present moment 
as the only mode of actual existence ; in the inter- 
dependence and relativity of all things ; in continual 
Becoming without ever Being ; in constant wishing 
and never being satisfied ; in the long battle which 
forms the history of life, where every effort is checked 
by difficulties, and stopped until they are overcome. 
Time is that in which all things pass away ; it is 
merely the form under which the will to live the 
thing-in-itself and therefore imperishable has re- 
vealed to it that its efforts are in vain ; it is that agent 
by which at every moment all things in our hands 
become as nothing, and lose any real value they 

That which has been exists no more ; it exists as 
little as that which has never been. But of every- 
thing that exists you must say, in the next moment, 
that it has been. Hence something of great import- 
ance now past is inferior to something of little 
importance now present, in that the latter is a reality, 
and related to the former as something to nothing. 

A man finds himself, to his great astonishment^ 



suddenly existing, after thousands and thousands of 
years of non-existence : he lives for a little while ; and 
then, again, comes an equally long period when he 
must exist no more. The heart rebels against this, 
and feels that it cannot be true. The crudest intel- 
lect cannot speculate on such a subject without 
having a presentiment that Time is something ideal 
in its nature. This ideality of Time and Space is 
the key to every true system of metaphysics; be- 
cause it provides for quite another order of things 
than is to be met with in the domain of nature. 
This is why Kant is so great. 

Of every event in our life we can say only for one 
moment that it is ; for ever after, that it was. Every 
evening we are poorer by a day. It might, perhaps, 
make us mad to see how rapidly our short span of 
time ebbs away; if it were not that in the furthest 
depths of our being we are secretly conscious of our 
share in the inexhaustible spring of eternity, so that 
we can always hope to find life in it again. x 

Considerations of the kind touched on above might, 
indeed, lead us to embrace the belief that the greatest 
wisdom is to make the enjoyment of the present the 
supreme object of life ; because that is the only 
reality, all else being merely the play of thought. On 
the other hand, such a course might just as well be 
called the greatest folly : for that which in the next 
moment exists no more, and vanishes utterly, like a 
dream, can never be worth a serious effort. 

The whole foundation on which our existence rests 
is the present the ever-fleeting present. It lies, then, 
in the very nature of our existence to take the form 


of constant motion, and to offer no possibility of our 
ever attaining the rest for which we are always 
striving. We are like a man running downhill, who 
cannot keep on his legs unless he runs on, and will 
inevitably fall if he stops; or, again, like a pole balanced 
on the tip of one's finger ; or like a planet, which 
would fall into its sun the moment it ceased to hurry 
forward on its way. (Unrest is the mark of existence.) 
In a world where all is unstable, and nought can 
endure, but is swept onwards at once in the hurrying 
whirlpool of change ; where a man, if he is to keep 
erect at all, must always be advancing and moving, 
like an acrobat on a rope in such a world, happiness 
is inconceivable?) How can it dwell where, as Plato 
says, continual Becoming and never Being is the sole 
form of existence 1 -Jn'tKe first place, a man never is 
happy, but spends his whole life in striving aftex 
something which he thinks will make him so ; he 
seldom attains his goal, and when he does, it is only 
to be disappointed^ he is mostly shipwrecked in the 
end, and comes into harbour with masts and rigging 
gone. / And then, it is all one whether he has been 
happy or miserable ; for his life was never anything 
more than a present moment always vanishing ; and 

now it is ove 


same time it is a wonderful thing that, i 
the world of human beings as in that of animals in 
general, this manifold restless motion is produced and 
kept up by the agency of two simple impulses 
hunger and the sexual instinct; aided a little, perhaps 
by the influence of boredom, but by nothing else ; and 
that, in the theatre of life, these suffice to form th 


primum mobile of how complicated a machinery, 
setting in motion how strange and varied a scene ! 

On looking a little closer, we find that inorganic 
matter presents a constant conflict between chemical 
forces, which eventually works dissolution ; and on 
the other hand, that organic life is impossible without 
continual change of matter, and cannot exist if it 
does not receive perpetual help from without. This is 
the realm of finality; and its opposite would be an 
infinite existence, exposed to no attack from without, 
and needing nothing to support it ; aei oxravTws ov, the 
realm of eternal peace; OVT* yiyvo^vov OVT* diroXXv- 
ptvov, some timeless, changeless state, one and un- 
diversified ; the negative knowledge of which forms 
the dominant note of the Platonic philosophy. ^ It is 
to some such state as this that the denial of the 
will to live opens up the way;\ 

The scenes of our life are like pictures done in 
rough mosaic. Looked at close, they produce no 
effect. There is nothing beautiful to be found in 
them, unless you stand some distance off. So, to gain 
anything we have longed for is only to discover how 
vain and empty it is ; and even though we are always 
living in expectation of better things, at the sam& 
time we often repent and long to have the past back 
again. We look upon the present as something to be 
put up with while it lasts, and serving only as the 
way towards our goal. (Hence most people, if they 
glance back when they come to the end of life, will 
find that all along they have been living ad interim : 
they will be surprised to find that the very thing 
they disregarded and let slip by unenjoyed was just 


the life in the expectation of which they passed all 
their time\ Of how many a man may it not be said 
that hope made a fool of him until he danced 
into the arms of death !] 

[Then again, how insatiable a creature is man* 
Every satisfaction he attains lays the seeds of some 
new desire, so that there is no end to the wishes of 
each individual will. And why is this ? The real 
reason is simply that, taken in itself, Will is the lord 
of all worlds : everything belongs to it, and therefore 
no one single thing can ever give it satisfaction, but 
only the whole, which is endless. For all that, it 
must rouse our sympathy to think how very little the 
Will, this lord of the world, really gets when it takes 
the form of an individual ; usually only just enough 
to keep the body together. This is why man 
is so very miserable. 

Life presents itself chiefly as a task the task, I 
mean, of subsisting at all, gagner sa vie. If this is 
accomplished, life is a burden, and then there comes the 
second task of doing something with that which has 
been won of warding off boredom, which, like a bird 
of prey, hovers over us, ready to fall wherever it sees 
a life secure from need. ( The first task is to win 
something ; the second, to banish the feeling that it 
has been won ; otherwise it is a burden} 

Luman life must be some kind of mistake. Th 
truth of this will be sufficiently obvious if we only 
remember that man is a compound of needs and 
necessities hard to satisfy; and that even when they 
are satisfied all he obtains is a state of painlessness, v 
where nothing remains to him but abandonment to 


boredom. This is direct proof that existence has nd 
real value in itself ; for what is boredom but the feel- 
ing of the emptiness of life'? If life .the craving for 
which is the very essence of our being were pos- 
sessed of any positive intrinsic value, there wotyld be 
no such thing as boredom at all : mere existence would 
satisfy us in itself, and we should want for nothing. 
^ But as it is, we take no delight in existence except 
when we are struggling for something ; and then 
distance and difficulties to be overcome make our goal 
look as though it would satisfy us an illusion which 
vanishes when we reach it ; or else when we are 
occupied with some purely intellectual interest where 
in reality we have stepped forth from life to look 
upon it from the outside, much after the manner of 
spectators at a play. And even sensual pleasure itself 
means nothing^ but a struggle and aspiration, ceas- 
ing the moment its aim is attained. Whenever 
we are not occupied in one of these ways, but cast 
upon existence itself, its vain and worthless nature is 
brought home to us ; and this is what we mean by 
boredom. The hankering after what is strange and 
uncommon an innate and ineradicable tendency of 
human nature shows how glad we are at any in- 
terruption of that natural course of affairs which is 
so very tedious. 

\That this most perfect manifestation of the will to 
live, the human organism, with the cunning and 
complex working of its machinery, must fall to dust 
and yield up itself and all its strivings to extinction 
this is the naive way in which Nature, who is always 
so true and sincere in what she says, proclaims the 


whole struggle of this will as in its very essence 
barren and unprofitable. \ Were it of any value in 
itself, anything unconditioned and absolute, it could 
not ttis end in mere nothing. 

(it we turn from contemplating the world as a 
whole, and, in particular, the generations of men as 
they live their little hour of mock-existence and then 
are swept away in rapid succession ; if we turn from 
this, and look at life in its small details, as presented, 
say, in a comedy, how ridiculous it all seems ! It is 
like a drop of water seen through a microscope, a 
single drop teeming with infusoria; or a speck of 
cheese full of mites invisible to the naked eye. How 
we laugh as they bustle about so eagerly, and struggle 
with one another in so tiny a space ! And whether 
here, or in the little span of human life, this terrible 
activity produces a comic effect. 

It is only in the microscope that our life looks so 
big. It is an indivisible point, drawn out and magni- 
fied by the powerful lenses of Time and Space. 



As far as I know, none but the votaries of mono 
theistic, that is to say, Jewish religions, look upon 
suicide as a crime. This is all the more striking, 
inasmuch as neither in the Old nor in the New Testa- 
ment is there to be found any prohibition or positive 
disapproval of it ; so that religious teachers are forced 
to base their condemnation of suicide on philosophical 
grounds of their own invention. These are so very 
bad that writers of this kind endeavour to make up 
for the weakness of their arguments by the strong 
terms in which they express their abhorrence of the 
practice ; in other words, they declaim against it 
They tell us that suicide is the greatest piece of 
cowardice ; that only a madman could be guilty of it, 
and other insipidities of the same kind ; or else they 
makejbhe nonsensical remark that suicide is wrong, 
when it is quite obvious that there is nothing in the 
world to which every man has a more unassailable 
title than to his own life and person. 

Suicide, as I have said, is actually accounted a 
crime ; and a crime which, especially under the vulgar 
bigotry that prevails in England, is followed by an 
ignominious burial and the seizure of the man's 
property; and for that reason, in a case of suicide, the 
jury almost always bring in a verdict of inanity. 


jj&Ol VjJ UuM'vL, 


Now let the reader's own moral feelings decide as to 
whether or not suicide is a criminal act. Think of the 
impression that would be made upon you by the news 
that some one you know had committed the crime, 
say, of murder or theft, or been guilty of some act of 
cruelty or deception; and compare it with your feelings 
when you hear that he has met a voluntary death. 
While in the one case a lively sense of indignation and 
extreme resentment will be aroused, and you will call 
loudly for punishment or revenge, in the other you will 
be moved to grief and sympathy; and mingled with 
your thoughts will be admiration for his courage, 
rather than the moral disapproval which follows upon 
a wicked action. Who has not had acquaintances, 
friends, relations, who of their own free will have left 
this world ; and are these to be thought of with 
horror as criminals ? Most emphatically No ! I am 
rather of opinion that the clergy should be challenged 
to explain what right they have to go into the pulpit, 
or take up their pens, and stamp as a crime an action 
which many men whom we hold in affection and 
honour have committed ; and to refuse an honourable 
burial to those who relinquish this world voluntarily. 
They have no Biblical authority to boast of, as justi- 
fying their condemnation of suicide; nay, not even 
any philosophical arguments that will hold water; 
and it must be understood that it is arguments we 
want, and that we will not be put off with mere 
phrases or words of abuse. If the criminal law for- 
bids suicide, that is not an argument valid in the 
Church ; and besides, the prohibition is ridiculous; for 
what penalty can frighten a man who is not afraid of 


death itself ? If the law punishes people for trying 
to commit suicide, it is punishing the want of skill 
that makes the attempt a failure. 

The ancients, moreover, were very far from regard- 
ing the matter in that light. Plinj says : Life is not 
so desirable a tiling as to be protracted at any cost. 
Whoever you are, you are sure to die, even though 
your life has been full of abomination and crime. 
The chief of all remedies for a troubled mind is the 
feeling that among the blessings which Nature gives to 
man there is none greater than an opportune death ; 
and the best of it is that every one can avail himself of 
it. 1 And elsewhere the same writer declares : Not 
even to God are all things possible ; for he could not 
compass his own death, if he willed to die, and yet in 
all the miseries of our earthly life this is the best of 
his gifts to man? Nay, in Massilia and on the isle of 
Ceos, the man who could give valid reasons for re- 
linquishing his life was handed the cup of hemlock 
by the magistrate, and that, too, in public. 8 And in 
ancient times how many heroes and wise men died a 
voluntary death. Aristotle, 4 it is true, declared 
suicide to be an offence against the State, although 
not against the person ; but in Stobaeus' exposition of 
the Peripatetic philosophy there is the following 
remark: The good man should flee life when his 

1 Hist. Nat. Lib. xxviii., 1. 

2 Loc. cit. Lib. ii. c. 7. 

3 Valerius Maximus ; hist. Lib. ii., c. 6, 7 et 8. Heraclides 
Ponticus ; fragmenta de rebus publicis, ix. Aeliani varise 
historise, iii., 37. Strabo ; Lib. x., c. 6, 6. 

* Eth. Nichom., v. 15. 

misfortunes become too great ; the bad man, afeo, 
when he is too prosperous. And similarly : So he will 
marry and beget children and take part in the a/airs 
of the State, and, generally, practise virtue and con- 
tinue to live ; and then, again, if need be, and at any 
time necessity compels him, he will depart to his place 
of refuge in the tomb. 1 And we find that the Stoics 
actually praised suicide as a noble and heroic action, 
as hundreds of passages show; above all in the works 
of Seneca, who expresses the strongest approval of it 
As is well known, the Hindoos look upon suicide as a 
religious act, especially when it takes the form of self- 
immolation by widows ; but also when it consists in 
casting oneself under the wheels of the chariot of the 
god at Juggernaut, or being eaten by crocodiles in the 
Ganges, or being drowned in the holy tanks in the 
temples, and so on. The same thing occurs on the 
stage that mirror of life. For example, in L'Orphelin 
de la Chine, 2 a celebrated Chinese play, almost all the 
noble characters end by suicide; without the slightest 
hint anywhere, or any impression being produced on 
the spectator, that they are committing a crime. 
And in our own theatre it is much the same 
Palmira, for instance, in Mahomet, or Mortimer in 
Maria Stuart, Othello, Countess Terzky. 8 Is Hamlet'8 
monologue the meditation of a criminal ? He merely 

1 Stobaeus. Ed. Lth. ii., c. 7, pp. 286, 312. 

2 Traduit par St. Julien, 1834. 

8 Translator's Note. Palmira : a female slave in Goethe's play 
of Mahomet. Mortimer : a would-be lover and rescuer of Mary 
in Schiller's Maria Stuart. Countess Terzky: a leading char- 
acter in Schillers Wattemtein's Tod. 


declares that if we had any certainty of being 
annihilated by it, death would be infinitely preferable 
to the world as it is. But there lies the rub I 

The reasons advanced against suicide by the 
clergy of monotheistic, that is to say, Jewish 
religions, and by those philosophers who adapt 
themselves thereto, are weak sophisms which can 
easily be refuted. 1 The most thorough -going refuta- 
tion of them is given by Hume in his Essay on 
Suicide. This did not appear until after his death, 
when it was immediately suppressed, owing to the 
scandalous bigotry and outrageous ecclesiastical 
tyranny that prevailed in England ; and hence only a 
very few copies of it were sold under cover of secrecy 
and at a high price. This and another treatise by that 
great man have come to us from Basle, and we may 
be thankful for the reprint. 2 It is a great disgrace to 
the English nation that a purely philosophical treatise, 
which, proceeding from one of the first thinkers and 
writers in England, aimed at refuting the current 
arguments against suicide by the light of cold reason, ^ 
should be forced to sneak about in that country as 
though it were some rascally production, until at last 
it found refuge on the Continent. At the same time 
it shows what a good conscience the Church has in 
such matters. 

In my chief work I have explained the only YaliJ 
reason existing against suicide on the score of 
morality. It is this : that suicide thwarts the attain- 

1 See my treatise on the Foundation of Morals, 5. 

2 Essays on Suicide and the Immortality of the Soul, by th 
late David Hume, Basle, 1799, sold by James Decker. 


m>out of the highest moral aim by the iact that, for a 
real release from this world of .misery, it substitutes 
one that is merely apparent. 1 But from a mistake to 
a crime is a far cry; and it is as a crime that the 
clergy of Christendom wish us to regard suicide. 

The inmost kernel of Christianity is the truth that 
suffering the Gross is the real end and object of 
life. Hence Christianity condemns suicide as thwart- 
ing this end ; whilst the ancient world, taking a lower 
point of view, held it in approval, nay, in honour. 
But if that is to be accounted a valid reason against 
suicide it involves the recognition of asceticism ; that is 
to say, it is valid only from a much higher ethical 
standpoint than has ever been adopted by moral 
philosophers in Europe. If we abandon that high 
standpoint, there is no tenable reason left, on the 
score of morality, for condemning suicide. The extra- 
ordinary energy and zeal with which the clergy of 
monotheistic religions attack suicide is not supported 
either by any passages in the Bible or by any con- 

1 Translators Note. Schopenhauer refers to Die Welt ais 
Wille und Vorstellung, vol. i., 69, where the reader may find 
the same argument stated at somewhat greater length. Accord- 
ing to Schopenhauer, moral freedom the highest ethical aim 
is to be obtained only by a denial of the will to live. Far from 
being a denial, suicide is an emphatic assertion of this will. 
For it is in fleeing from the pleasures, not from the sufferings 
of life, that this denial consists. When a man destroys his 
existence as an individual, he is not by any means destroying 
his will to live. On the contrary, he would like to live if he 
could do so with satisfaction to himself ; if he could assert his 
will against the power of circumstance ; but circumstance is too 
strong for him. 


siderations of weight ; so that it looks as though they 
must have some secret reason for their contention. 
May it not be this that the voluntary surrender of 
life is a bad compliment for him who said that all 
things ivere very good ? If this is so, it offers 
another instance of the crass optimism of these 
religions, denouncing suicide to escape being de- 
nounced by it. 

It will generally be found that, as soon as the 
terrors of life reach the point at which they oujt. weigh 
the terrors of death, a man will put an end to his life. 
But the terrors of death offer considerable resistance ; 
they stand like a sentinel at the gate leading out of 
this world. Perhaps there is no man alive who would 
not have already put an end to his life, if this end had 
been of a purely negative character, a sudden stoppage 
of existence. There is something positive about it; 
it is the destruction of the body ; and a man shrinks 
from that, because his body is the manifestation of 
the will to live. 

However, the struggle with that sentinel is, as a 
rule, not so hard as it may seem from a long way off, 
mainly in consequence of the antagonism between the 
ills of the body and the ills of the mind. If we are in 
great bodily pain, or the pain, lasts a long time, we 
become indifferent to other troubles ; all we think 
about is to get well. In the same way great mental 
suffering makes us insensible to bodily pain; we 
despise it ; nay, if it should outweigh the other, it 
distracts our thoughts, and we welcome it as a pause 
in mental suffering. It is this feeling that makes 
suicide easy ; for the bodily pain that accompanies it 


loses all significance in the eyes of one who is tortured 
by an excess of mental suffering. This is especially 
evident in the case of those who are driven to suicide 
by some purely morbid and exaggerated ill-humour. 
No special effort to overcome their feelings is necessary, 
nor do such people require to be worked up in order 
to take the step ; but as soon as the keeper into whose 
charge they are given leaves them for a couple of 
minutes they quickly bring their life to an end. 

When, in some dreadful and ghastly dream, we 
reach the moment of greatest horror, it awakes us; 
thereby banishing all the hideous shapes that were 
born of the night And life is a dream : when the 
moment of greatest horror compels us to break it off, 
the same thing happens. 

Suicide may also be regarded as an experiment a 
question which man puts to Nature, trying to force her 
to an answer. The question is this: What change will 
death produce in a man's existence and in his insight 
into the nature of things ? It is a clumsy experiment 
to make; for it involves the destruction of the very 
consciousness which puts the question and awaits the 



Thrasymachos. Tell me now, in one word, what 
shall I be after my death ? And mind you be clear 
and precise. 

Philalethes. Everything and nothing. 

Thrasymachos. I thought so! I gave you a pro- 
blem, and you solve it by a contradiction. That's a 
very stale trick. 

Philalethes. Yes, but you raise transcendental 
questions, and you expect me to answer them in 
language that is only made for immanent knowledge. 
It's no wonder that a contradiction ensues. 

Thrasymachos. What do you mean by transcend- 
ental questions and immanent knowledge ? I've 

} Translator's Note. The word immortality Unsterblichkeit 
does not occur in the original ; nor would it, in its usual applica- 
tion, find a place in Schopenhauer's vocabulary. The word he 
uses is Unzerst&rbarkeit indestructibility. But 1 have preferred 
immortality, because that word is commonly associated with the 
subject touched upon in this little debate. If any critic doubts 
the wisdom of this preference, let me ask him to try his hand at 
a short, concise, and, at the same time, popularly intelligible 
rendering of the German original, which runs thus : Zur Lehre 
vender Unzerstorbarkeit unseres uwhren Wesens durch den Tod: 
kUine dialogische Schlussbelustigunq. 



heard these expressions before, of course ; they are not 
new to me. The Professor was fond of using them, 
but only as predicates of the Deity, and he never 
talked of anything else ; which was all quite right and 
proper. He argued thus: if the Deity was in the 
world itself, he was immanent ; if he was somewhere 
outside it, he was transcendent. Nothing could be 
clearer and more obvious ! You knew where you 
were. But this Kantian rigmarole won't do any more: 
it's antiquated and no longer applicable to modern 
ideas. Why, we've had a whole row of eminent men 
in the metropolis of German learning 

Philalethes (aside). German humbug, he means. 

Thrasymachos. The mighty Schleiermacher, for in- 
stance, and that gigantic intellect, Hegel ; and at this 
time of day we've abandoned that nonsense. I should 
rather say we're so far beyond it that we can't put up 
with it any more. What's the use of it then ? What 
does it all mean ? 

Philalethes. Transcendental knowledge is know- 
ledge which passes beyond the bounds of possible ex- 
perience, and strives to determine the nature of things 
as they are in themselves. Immanent knowledge, on 
the other hand, is knowledge which confines itself en- 
tirely within those bounds ; so that it cannot apply to 
anything but actual phenomena. As far as you are an 
individual, death will be the end of you. But your 
individuality is not your true and inmost being : nay, 
only the outward manifestation of it. It is not the 
thing -in-itself, but only the phenomenon presented 
in the form of time ; and therefore with a beginning 
and an end. But your real being knows neither time 


nor beginning nor end, nor yet the limits of any given 
individual. It is everywhere present in every in- 
dividual ; and no individual can exist apart from it. 
So when death comes, on the one hand you are 
annihilated as an individual ; on the other you are 
and remain everything. That's what I meant when 
I said that at death you would be everything and 
nothing. It is difficult to find a more precise answer 
to your question and at the same time be brief. The 
answer is contradictory, I admit ; but it is so simply be- 
cause your life is in time, and the immortal part of 
you in eternity. You may put the matter thus: 
Your immortal part is something that does not last 
in time and yet is indestructible ; but there you have 
another contradiction I You see what happens by 
trying to bring the transcendental within the limits 
of immanent knowledge. It is in some sort doing 
violence to the latter by misusing it for ends it was 
never meant to serve. 

Thrasymachos. Look here, I sha'n't give two- 
pence for your immortality unless I'm to remain 
an individual. 

Philalethes. Well, perhaps I may be able to satisfy 
you on this point. Suppose I guarantee that after 
death you shall remain an individual, but only on 
condition that you first spend three months of com- 
plete unconsciousness. 

Thrasymachos. I shall have no objection to that. 

PhUalethes. But remember, if people are completely 
unconscious, they take no account of time. So, when 
you are dead, it's all the same to you whether three 
months pass in the world of consciousness, or ten 


thousand years. In the one case as in the other, it is 
simply a matter of believing what is told you when 
you awake. So far, then, you can afford to be in- 
different whether it is three months or ten thousand 
years that pass before you recover your individuality. 

Thrasymachos. Yes, if it comes to that, I suppose 
you're right. 

Philalethes. And if by chance, after those ten 
thousand years have gone by, no one ever thinks of 
awaking you, I fancy it would be no great misfortune. 
You would have become quite accustomed to non- 
existence after so long a spell of it following upon 
such a very few years of life. At any rate you may 
be sure you would be perfectly ignorant of the whole 
^ thing. Further, if you knew that the mysterious 
power which keeps you in your present state of life 
had never once ceased in those ten thousand years to 
bring forth other phenomena like yourself, and to 
endow them with life, it would fully console you. 

Thrasymachos. Indeed ! So you think you're quietly 
going to do me out of my individuality with all this 
fine talk. But I'm up to your tricks. I tell you I 
won't exist unless I can have my individuality. I'm 
not going to be put off with ' mysterious powers,' and 
what you call ' phenomena.' I can't do without my 
individuality, and I won't give it up. 

Philalethes. You mean, I suppose, that your indivi- 
duality is such a delightful thing so splendid, so 
perfect, and beyond compare that you can't imagine 
anything better. Aren't you ready to exchange your 
present state for one which, if we can judge by what is 
told us, may possibly be superior and more endurable I 


Thrasymachos. Don't you see that my individuality, 
be it what it may, is my very self ? To me it is the 
most important thing in the world, 

For God is God and I am I. 

/ want to exist, 7, 7. That's the main thing. I don't 
care about an existence which has to be proved to be 
mine, before 1 can believe it 

Philalethes. Think what you're doing ! When you 
say 7, 7, 7 want to exist, it is not you alone that says 
this. Everything says it, absolutely everything that 
has the faintest trace of consciousness. It follows,^' 
then, that this desire of yours is just the part of you 
that is not individual the part that is common to 
all things without distinction. It is the cry, not of the 
individual, but of existence itself ; it is the intrinsic 
element in everything that exists, nay, it is the cause 
of anything existing at all. This desire craves for, and 
so is satisfied with, nothing less than existence in 
general not any definite individual existence. No ! 
that is not its aim. It seems to be so only because 
this desire this Will attains consciousness only in 
the individual, and therefore looks as though it were 
concerned with nothing but the individual. There 
lies the illusion an illusion, it is true, in which the 
individual is held fast : but, if he reflects, he can break \^/ 
the fetters and set himself free. It is only indirectly, 
I say, that the individual has this violent craving for 
existence. It is the Will to Live which is the real and 
direct aspirant alike and identical in all things. 
Since, then, existence is the free work, nay, the mere 
reflection of the will, where existence is, there, too, must 


be will; and for the moment the will finds its 
satisfaction in existence itself, so far, I mean, as that 
which never rests, but presses forward eternally, can 
ever find any satisfaction at all. The will is careless 
of the individual : the individual is not its business ; 
although, as I have said, this seems as if it were be- 
cause the individual has no direct consciousness of 
will except in himself. The effect of this is to make 
the individual careful to maintain his own existence ; 
and if this were not so, there would be no surety for 
the preservation of the species. From all this it is 
clear that individuality is not a form of perfection, but 
rather of limitation ; and so to be freed from it is not 
loss but gain. Trouble yourself no more about the 
matter. Once thoroughly recognise what you are, 
what your existence really is, namely, the universal 
will to live, and the whole question will seem to you 
childish, and most ridiculous ! 

Thrasymachos. You're childish yourself, and most 
ridiculous, like all philosophers ! and if a man of my 
age lets himself in for a quarter-of-an-hour's talk with 
such fools it is only because it amuses me and passes 
the time. I've more important business to attend to, 
so Good-bye, 



THERE is an unconscious propriety in the way in 
which, in all European languages, the word person is 
commonly used to denote a human being. The real 
meaning of persona is a mask, such as actors were 
accustomed to wear on the ancient stage ; and it is 
quite true that no one shows himself as he is, but 
wears his mask and plays his part. Indeed, the whole 
of our social arrangements may be likened to a per- 
petual comedy ; and this is why a man who is worth 
anything finds society so insipid, while a blockhead is 
quite at home in it. 


Reason deserves to be called a prophet; for in 
showing us the consequence and effect of our actions 
in the present, does it not tell us what the future will 
be ? This is precisely why reason is such an excellent 
power of restraint in moments when we are possessed 
by some base passion, some fit of anger, some covetous 
desire, that will lead us to do things whereof 
we must presently repent. 

c r 

Hatred comes from the heart ; contempt from the 
head ; and neither feeling is quite within our control* 
For we cannot alter our heart ; its bias is determined 
by motives ; and our head deals with objective facts 



and applies to them rules which are immutable. Any 
given individual is the union of a particular heart 
with a particular head. 

Hatred and contempt are diametrically opposed and 
mutually exclusive. There are even not a few cases 
where hatred of a person is rooted in nothing but 
forced esteem for his qualities. And besides, if a man 
sets out to hate all the miserable creatures he meets, 
he will not have much energy left for anything else ; 
whereas he can despise them, one and all, with the 
greatest ease. True, genuine contempt is just the 
reverse of true, genuine pride ; it keeps quite quiet 
and gives no sign of its existence. For if a man shows 
that he despises you, he signifies at least this much 
regard for you, that he wants to let you know how 
little he appreciates you ; and his wish is dictated by 
hatred, which cannot exist with real contempt. On 
the contrary, if it is genuine, it is simply the convic- 
tion that the object of it is a man of no value at alL 
Contempt is not incompatible with indulgent and 
kindly treatment, and for the sake of one's own peace 
and safety this should not be omitted ; it will prevent 
irritation ; and there is no one who cannot do harm if 
he is roused to it. But if this pure, cold, sincere 
contempt ever shows itself, it will be met with the 
most truculent hatred ; for the despised person is not 
in a position to fight contempt with its own weapons. 

Melancholy is a very different thing from bad 
humour, and of the two it is not nearly so far removed 
from a gay and happy temperament. Melancholy 
attracts, while bad humour repels. 


Hypochondria is a species of torment which not 
only makes us unreasonably cross with the things of 
the present ; not only fills us with groundless anxiety 
on the score of future misfortunes entirely of our own 
manufacture, but also leads to unmerited self- 
reproach for what we have done in the past. 

Hypochondria shows itself in a perpetual hunting 
after things that vex and annoy, and then brooding 
over them. The cause of it is an inward morbid 
discontent, often co-existing with a naturally 
restless temperament. In their extreme form, this 
discontent and this unrest lead to suicide. 

Any incident, however trivial, that rouses disagree- 
able emotion, leaves an after-effect in our mind, which, 
for the time it lasts, prevents our taking a clear 
objective view of the things about us, and tinges all 
our thoughts ; just as a small object held close to the 
eye limits and distorts our field of vision. 

What makes people hard-hearted is this, that each 
man has, or fancies he has, as mueh as he can bear in 
his own troubles. Hence if a man suddenly finds 
himself in an unusually happy position, it will in most 
cases result in his being sympathetic and kind. But 
if he has never been in any other than a happy 
position, or this becomes his permanent state, the 
effect of it is often just the contrary : it so far removes 
him from suffering that he is incapable of feeling any 
more sympathy with it. So it is that the poor often 
show themselves more ready to help than the rich. 


At times it seems as though we both wanted and 
did not want the same thing, and felt at once glad 
and sorry about it. For instance, if on some fixed 
date we are going to be put to a decisive test about 
anything in which it would be a great advantage to 
us to come off victorious, we shall be anxious for it to 
take place at once, and at the same time we shall 
tremble at the thought of its approach. And if, in 
the meantime, we hear that, for once in a way, the date 
has been postponed, we shall experience a feeling 
both o pleasure and of annoyance ; for the news is 
disappointing, but nevertheless it affords us momentary 
relief. It is just the same thing if we are expecting 
some important letter carrying a definite decision, and 
it fails to arrive. 

In such cases there are really two different motives 
at work in us ; the stronger but more distant of the 
two being the desire to stand the test and to have the 
decision given in our favour ; and the weaker, which 
touches us more nearly, the wish to be left for the 
present in peace and quiet, and accordingly in further 
enjoyment of the advantage which at any rate attaches 
to a state of hopeful uncertainty, compared with the 
possibility that the issue may be unfavourable. 

In my head there is a permanent opposition-party ; 
and whenever I take any step or come to any de- 
cision though I may have given the matter mature 
consideration it afterwards attacks what I have done, 
without, however, being each time necessarily in the 
right. This is, I suppose, only a form of rectification 
on the part of the spirit of scrutiny ; but it often re- 


preaches me when I do not deserve it. The same 
thing, no doubt, happens to many others as well ; for 
where is the man who can help thinking that, after 
all, it were better not to have done something that he 
did with every hope of success : 

Quid tarn dextro pede concipis ut te 
Conafaw non poeniteat votique peracti f 

Why is it that common is an expression of con- 
tempt ? and that uncommon, extraordinary, dis- 
tinguished, denote approbation ? Why is everything 
that is common contemptible ? 

Common in its original meaning denotes that which 
is peculiar to all men. i.e., shared equally by the whole 
species, and therefore an inherent part of its nature, 
Accordingly, if an individual possesses no qualities 
beyond those which attach to mankind in general, he 
is a common man. Ordinary is a much milder word, 
and refers rather to intellectual character ; whereas 
common has more of a moral application. 

What value can a creature have that is not a whit 
different from millions of its kind ? Millions, do I 
say ? nay, an infinitude of creatures which, century 
after century, in never-ending flow, Nature sends 
bubbling up from her inexhaustible springs ; as 
generous with them as the smith with the useless 
sparks that fly around his anvil. 

It is obviously quite right that a creature which 
has no qualities except those of the species should 
have to confine its claim to an existence entirely 



within tlie limits of the species, and live a life con- 
ditioned by those limits. 

In various passages of my works, 1 I have argued 
that whilst a lower animal possesses nothing more 

T O 

than the generic character of its species man is the 
only being which can lay claim to possess an individual 
character. But in most men this individual character 
comes to very little in reality ; and they may be 
almost all ranged under certain classes : ce sont des 
especes. Their thoughts and desires, like their faces, 
are those of the species, or, at any rate, those of the 
class to which they belong ; and accordingly they are 
of a trivial, every-day, common character, and exist 
by the thousand. You can usually tell beforehand 
what they are likely to do and say. They have no 
special stamp or mark to distinguish them ; they are 
like manufactured goods, all of a piece. 

If, then, their nature is merged in that of the species, 
how shall their existence go beyond it ? The curse of 
vulgarity puts men on a par with the lower animals, 
by allowing them none but a generic nature, a generic 
form of existence. 

Anything that is high or great or noble must then, 
as a matter of course, and by its very nature, stand 
alone in a world where no better expression can be 
found to denote what is base and contemptible than 
that which I have mentioned as in general use, namely, 


Will, as the thing -in-itself, is the foundation of all 

3 Grwidprobleme der Ethik, p. 48 ; Wdt als WUU und For- 
ftellung, vol. i. p. 338. 


being ; it is part and parcel of every creature, and the 
permanent element in everything. Will, then, is that 
which we possess in common with all men, nay, with 
all animals, and even with lower forms of existence ; 
and in so far we are akin to everything so far, that 
is, as everything is filled to overflowing with will. On 
the other hand, that which places one being over an- 
other, and sets differences between man and man, is 
intellect and knowledge; therefore in every mani- 
festation of self we should, as far as possible, give play 
to the intellect alone ; for, as we have seen, the will is 
the common part of us. Every violent exhibition of 
will is common and vulgar ; in other words, it reduces 
us to the level of the species, and makes us a mere 
type and example of it ; in that it is just the character 
of the species that we are showing. So every fit of 
anger is something common every unrestrained dis- 
play of joy, or of hate, or fear in short, every form of 
emotion ; in other words, every movement of the will, 
if it is so strong as decidedly to outweigh the intellec- 
tual element in consciousness, and to make the man 
appear as a being that wills rather than knows. 

In giving way to emotion of this violent kind, the 
greatest genius puts himself on a level with the com- 
monest son of earth. Contrarily, if a man desires to ^ 
be absolutely uncommon, in other words, great, he 
should never allow his consciousness to be taken 
possession of and dominated by the movement of his 
will, however much he may be solicited thereto. 
For example, he must be able to observe that other 
people are badly disposed towards him without feel- 
ing any hatred towards them himself ; nay, there is 


no surer sign of a great mind than that it refuses to 
notice annoying and insulting expressions, but straight- 
way ascribes them, as it ascribes countless other mis- 
takes, to the defective knowledge of the speaker, and 
so merely observes without feeling them. This is the 
meaning of that remark of Gracian, that nothing is 
more unworthy of a man than to let it be seen that 
he is one el mayor desdoro de un hombre es dor 
muestras de que es hombre. 

And even in the drama, which is the peculiar pro- 
vince of the passions and emotions, it is easy for them 
to appear common and vulgar. And this is specially 
observable in the works of the French tragic writers, 
who set no other aim before themselves but the 
delineation of the passions ; and by indulging at one 
moment in a vapourous kind of pathos which makes 
them ridiculous, at another in epigrammatic witticisms, 
endeavour to conceal the vulgarity of their subject. 
I remember seeing the celebrated Mademoiselle Kachel 
as Maria Stuart; and when she burst out in fury 
against Elizabeth though she did it very well I 
could not help thinking of a washerwoman. She 
played the final parting in such a way as to deprive 
it of all true tragic feeling, of which, indeed, the 
French have no notion at all. The same part was 
incomparably better played by the Italian Bistori; 
and, in fact, the Italian nature, though in many 
respects very different from the German, shares its 
appreciation for what is deep, serious, and true in 
Art ; herein opposed to the French, which everywhere 
betrays that it possesses none of this feeling whatever. 

The noble, in other words, the uncommon, element 


in the drama nay, what is sublime in it is not 
reached until the intellect is set to work, as opposed 
to the will ; until it takes a free flight over all those " 
passionate movements of the will, and makes them 
the subject of its contemplation. Shakespeare, in par- 
ticular, shows that this is his general method, more 
especially in Hamlet. And only when intellect rises 
to the point where the vanity of all effort is manifest, 
and the will proceeds to an act of self -annulment, is 
the drama tragic in the true sense of the word : it is 
then that it reaches its highest aim in becoming really 


Every man takes the limits of his own field of 
vision for the limits of the world. This is an error 
of the intellect as inevitable as that error of the eye 
which lets us fancy that on the horizon heaven and 
earth meet. This explains many things, and among 
them the fact that everyone measures us with his own 
standard generally about as long as a tailor's tape, 
and we have to put up with it : as also that no one 
will allow us to be taller than himself a supposition 
which is once for all taken for granted. 

There is no doubt that many a man owes his 
good fortune in life solely to the circumstance that 
he has a pleasant way of smiling, and so wins the 
heart in his favour. 

However, the heart would do better to be careful, 
and to remember what Hamlet put down in his tablets 
that one may smile, and smile, and be a villain. 


Everything that is really fundamental in a man, 
and therefore genuine, works, as such, unconsciously; 
in this respect like the power of nature. That which 
has passed through the domain of consciousness is 
thereby transformed into an idea or picture ; and so, 
if it comes to be uttered, it is only an idea or picture 
which passes from one person to another. 

Accordingly any quality of mind or character that 
is genuine and lasting is originally unconscious ; and 
it is only when unconsciously brought into play that it 
makes a profound impression. If any like quality is 
consciously exercised, it means that it has been worked 
up ; it becomes intentional, and therefore a matter of 
affectation, in other words, of deception. 
\S If a man does a thing unconsciously, it costs him no 
trouble ; but if he tries to do it by taking trouble he 
fails. This applies to the origin of those fundamental 
ideas which form the pith and marrow of all genuine 
work. Only that which is innate is genuine ^and will 
hold water; and every man who wantsHer achieve 
something, whether in practical life, in literature, or 
in art, must follow the rules without knowing them,. 

Men of very great capacity will, as a rule, find the 
company of very stupid people preferable to that of 
the common run ; for the same reason that the tyrant 
and the mob, the grandfather and the grandchildren, 
are natural allies. 

That line of Ovid's, 

Pronaque cum spectent animalia cetera terram, 
can be applied in its true physical sense to the lower 


animals alone; but in a metaphorical and spiritual 
sense it is, alas ! true of nearly all men as well. All 
their plans and projects are merged in the desire of 
physical enjoyment, physical well-being. They may, 
indeed, have personal interests, often embracing a very 
varied sphere ; but still these latter receive their im- 
portance entirely from the relation in which they stand 
to the former. This is not only proved by their 
manner of life and the things they say, but it even 
shows itself in the way they look, the expression of 
their physiognomy, their gait and gesticulations. 
Everything about them cries out : in terram prona ! 

It is not to them, it is only to the nobler and more 
highly endowed natures men who really think and 
look about them in the world, and form exceptional 
specimens of humanity that the next lines are ap- 
plicable ; 

0* homini sublime dedit codumque tueri 
Jussit et erectos ad sidera tottere vultus. 

No one knows what capacities for doing and suffer- 
ing he has in himself, until something comes to rous i 
them to activity : just as in a pond of still water, 
lying there like a mirror, there is no sign of the roar 
and thunder with which it can leap from the precipice, 
and yet remain what it is ; or again, rise high in the 
air as a fountain. When water is as cold as ice, you 
can have no idea of the latent warmth contained in it. 

Why is it that, in spite of all the mirrors in the 
world, no one really knows what he looks like ? 


A man may call to mind the face of his friend, but 
not his own. Here, then, is an initial difficulty in the 
way of applying the maxim, Know thyself. 

This is partly, no doubt, to be explained by the 
fact that it is physically impossible for a man to see 
himself in the glass except with face turned straight 
towards it and perfectly motionless; where the ex- 
pression of the eye, which counts for so much, and 
really gives its whole character to the face, is to a 
great extent lost. But co-existing with this physical 
impossibility there seems to me to be an ethical im- 
possibility of an analogous nature, which produces 
the same effect. A man cannot look upon his own 
reflection as though the person presented there were a 
stranger to him ; and yet this is necessary if he is to 
take an objective view. In the last resort, an objec- 
tive view means a deep-rooted feeling on the part of 
the individual, as a moral being, that that which he is 
contemplating is not himself; l and unless he can take 
this point of view he will not see things in a really 
true light, which is possible only if he is alive to their 
actual defects, exactly as they are. Instead of that, 
when a man sees himself in the glass, something out 
of his own egoistic nature whispers to him to take 
care to remember that it is no stranger, but himself, 
that he is looking at ; and this operates as a noli me 
tangere, and prevents him taking an objective view. 
It seems, indeed, as if, without the leaven of a grain 
of malice, such a view were impossible. 

According as a man's mental energy is exerted or 
* Cf, Qrwdproblem* der Mhik. p. 275. 


relaxed will life appear to him either so short and 
petty and fleeting that nothing can possibly happen 
over which it is worth his while to spend emotion ; 
that nothing really matters, whether it is pleasure or 
riches or even fame, and that in whatever way a man 
may have failed he cannot have lost much or, on 
the other hand, life will seem so long, so important, 
so all in all, so momentous and so full of difficulty, 
that we have to plunge into ifc with our whole soul if 
we are to obtain a share of its goods, make sure of its 
prizes, and carry out our plans. This latter is the 
immanent and common view of life; it is what 
Gracian means when he speaks of the serious way of 
looking at things tomar muy de veras el vivir. 
The former is the transcendental view, which is well 
expressed in Ovid's non est tanti it is not worth so 
much trouble ; still better, however, by Plato's re- 
mark that nothing in human affairs is worth any 
great anxiety OVTC n rwv &vQp*rivi*v dtov l<rrl /xcyaAus 
crrrov&Js. This condition of mind arises when intellect 
has got the upper hand in the domain of conscious- 
ness, where, freed from the mere service of the will, 
it looks upon the phenomena of life objectively, and 
so cannot fail to gain a clear insight into its vain and 
futile character. But in the other condition of mind, 
will predominates; and the intellect exists only to 
light it on its way to the attainment of its desires. 

A man is great or small according as he leans to the 
one or the other of these views of life. 

People of very brilliant ability think little of ad- 
mitting their errors and weaknesses, or of letting 


others see them. They look upon them as something 
for which they have duly paid ; and instead of fancy- 
ing that these weaknesses are a disgrace to them 
they consider they are doing them an honour. This 
is especially the case when the errors are of the kind 
that hang together with their qualities conditioner 
sine quibus non or, as George Sand said, les defauts 
de ses vertus, 

Contrarily, there are people of good character and 
irreproachable intellectual capacity, who, far from ad- 
mitting the few little weaknesses they have, conceal 
them with care, and show themselves very sensitive to 
any suggestion of their existence ; and this just 
because their whole merit consists in being free from 
error and infirmity. If these people are found to 
have done anything wrong, their reputation im- 
mediately suffers. 

With people of only moderate ability modesty is 
mere honesty ; but with those who possess great 
talent it is hypocrisy. Hence it is just as becoming 
in the latter to make no secret of the respect they 
bear themselves, and no disguise of the fact that they 
are conscious of unusual power, as it is in the former 
to be modest. Valerius Maximus gives some very 
neat examples of this in his chapter on self-confidence, 
de fiducia sui. 

Not to go to the theatre is like making one s toilet 
without a mirror. But it is still worse to take a 
decision without consulting a friend. For a man 
may have the most excellent judgment in all other 


matters, and yet go wrong in those which concern 
himself; because here the will comes in and deranges 
the intellect at once. Therefore let a man take 
counsel of a friend. A doctor can cure everyone but 
himself ; if he falls ill, he sends for a colleague. 

In all that we do, we wish, more or less, to come to 
the end ; we are impatient to finish and glad 
to be done. But the last scene of all, the general 
end, is something that, as a rule, we wish as far off as 
may be. 

Every parting gives a foretaste of death ; every 
coming together again a foretaste of the resurrection. 
This is why even people who were indifferent to each 
other rejoice so much if they come together again 
after twenty or thirty years' separation. 

Intellects differ from one another in a very real 
and fundamental way : but no comparison can well 
be made by merely general observations. It is 
necessary to come close, and to go into details; for the 
difference that exists cannot be seen from afar ; and it 
is not easy to judge by outward appearances, as in the 
several cases of education, leisure and occupation. 
But even judging by these alone it must be admitted 
that many a man has a degree of existence at least ten 
times as high as another in other words, exists ten 
times as much. 

I am not speaking here of savages whose life is often 
only one degree above that of the apes in their woods. 
Consider, for instance, a porter in Naples or Venice, 


(in the north of Europe solicitude for the winter 
months makes people more thoughtful and therefore 
reflective) ; look at the life he leads, from its be- 
ginning to its end : driven by poverty ; living on his 
physical strength; meeting the needs of every day, 
nay, of every hour, by hard work, great effort, constant 
tumult, want in all its forms, no care for the morrow; 
his only comfort, rest after exhaustion; continuous 
quarrelling ; not a moment free for reflection ; such 
sensual delights as a mild climate and only just 
sufficient food will permit of ; and then, finally, as the 
metaphysical element, the crass superstition of his 
church ; the whole forming a manner of life with only 
a low degree of consciousness, where a man hustles, or 
rather is hustled, through his existence. This restless 
and confused dream forms the life of how many 
millions ! 

Such men think only just so much as is necessary 
to carry out their will for the moment. They never 
reflect upon their life as a connected whole, let alone, 
then, upon existence in general ; to a certain extent 
they may be said to exist without really knowing it. 
The existence of the mobsman or the slave who lives 
on in this unthinking way stands very much nearer 
than ours to that of the brute, which is confined 
entirely to the present moment; but, for that very 
reason, it has also less of pain in it than ours. Nay, 
since all pleasure is in its nature negative, that is to 
say, consists in freedom from some form of misery or 
need, the constant and rapid interchange between 
setting about something and getting it done, which is 
the permanent accompaniment of the work they do, 


and then again the augmented form which this takes 
when they go from work to rest and the satisfaction 
of their needs all this gives them a constant source 
of enjoyment ; and the fact that it is much commoner 
to see happy faces amongst the poor than amongst the 
rich is a sure proof that it is used to good advantage. 

Passing from this kind of man, consider, next, the' 
sober, sensible merchant, who leads a life of specula- 
tion, thinks long over his plans and carries them out 
with great care, founds a house, and provides for 
his wife, his children and descendants; takes his share, 
too, in the life of the community. It is obvious that 
a man like this has a much higher degree of con- 
sciousness than the former, and so his existence has a 
higher degree of reality. 

Then look at the man of learning, who investigates, 
it may be, the history of the past. He will have 
reached the point at which a man becomes conscious 
of existence as a whole, sees beyond the period of his 
own life, beyond his own personal interests, thinking 
over the whole course of the world's history. 

Then, finally, look at the poet or the philosopher, 
in whom reflection has reached such a height, that, 
instead of being drawn on to investigate any one 
particular phenomenon of existence, he stands in 
amazement before existence itself, this great sphinx, 
and makes it his problem. In him consciousness has 
reached the degree of clearness at which it embraces 
the world itself: his intellect has completely aban- 
doned its function as the servant of his will, and now 
holds the world before him ; and the world calls upon 
him much more to examine and consider it than to 


play a part in it himself. If, then, the degree of con- 
sciousness is the degree of reality, such a man will be 
said to exist most of all, and there will be sense and 
significance in so describing him. 

Between the two extremes here sketched, and the 
intervening stages, everyone will be able to find the 
place at which he himself stands. 

We know that man is in general superior to all 
other animals, and this is also the case in his capacity 
for being trained. Mohammedans are trained to pray 
with their faces turned towards Mecca, five times a day; 
and they never fail to do it. Christians are trained 
to cross themselves on certain occasions, to bow, and 
so on. Indeed, it may be said that religion is the 
chef d'ceuvre of the art of training, because it trains 
people in the way they shall think : and, as is well 
known, you cannot begin the process too early. There 
is no absurdity so palpable but that it may be firmly 
planted in the human head if you only begin to in- 
culcate it before the age of five, by constantly repeat- 
ing it with an air of great solemnity. For as in the 
case of animals, so in that of men, training is success- 
ful only when you begin in early youth. 

Noblemen and gentlemen are trained to hold no- 
thing sacred but their word of honour to maintain a 
zealous, rigid, and unshaken belief in the ridiculous 
code of chivalry ; and if they are called upon to do so, 
to seal their belief by dying for it, and seriously to 
regard a king as a being of a higher order. 

Again, our expressions of politeness, the compli- 
ments we make, in particular/ the respectful attentions 


we pay to ladies, are a matter of training ; as also our 
esteem for good birth, rank, titles, and so on. Of the 
same character is the resentment we feel at any insult 
directed against us; and the measure of this resentment 
may be exactly determined by the nature of the in- 
sult. An Englishman, for instance, thinks it a deadly 
insult to be told that he is no gentleman, or, still 
worse, that he is a liar ; a Frenchman has the same 
feeling if you call him a coward, and a German if you 
say he is stupid. 

There are many persons who are trained to be 
strictly honourable in regard to one particular matter, 
while they have little honour to boast of in anything 
else. Many a man, for instance, will not steal your 
money ; but he will lay hands on everything of yours 
that he can enjoy without having to pay for it. A 
man of business will often deceive you without the 
slightest scruple, but he will absolutely refuse to com- 
mit a theft. 

Imagination is strong in a man when that 
ticular function of the brain which enables him to 
observe is roused to activity without any necessary 
excitement of the senses. Accordingly we find that 
imagination is active just in proportion as our senses 
are not excited by external objects. A long period of 
solitude, whether in prison or in a sick-room ; quiet, 
twilight, darkness these are the things that promote 
its activity ; and under their influence it comes into 
play of itself. On the other hand, when a great deal 
of material is presented to our faculties of observation, 
as happens on a journey, or in the hurly-burly of the 


world, or, again, in broad daylight, the imagination 
is idle, and, even though call may be made upon it, 
refuses to become active, as though it understood that 
that was not its proper time. 

However, if the imagination is to yield any real 
product, it must have received a great deal of material 
from the external world. This is the only way in 
which its storehouse can be filled. The phantasy is 
nourished much in the same way as the body, which 
is least capable of any work and enjoys doing nothing, 
just in the very moment when it receives its food, 
which it has to digest. And yet it is to this very food 
that it owes the power which it afterwards puts forth 
at the right time. 

Opinion is like a pendulum and obeys the same 
law. If it goes past the centre of gravity on one side, 
it must go a like distance on the other ; and it is only 
after a certain time that it finds the true point at 
which it can remain at rest 

By a process of contraction, distance in space makes 
things look small and therefore free from defect. 
This is why a landscape looks so much better in a 
contracting mirror or in a camera obscwra, than it is 
in reality. The same effect is produced by distance in 
time. The scenes and events of long ago and the 
persons who took part in them wear a charming as- 
pect to the eye of memory, which sees only the outlines 
and takes no note of disagreeable details. The pre- 
sent enjoys no such advantage, and so it always 
seems defective. 


And again, as regards space, small objects close 
us look big, and if they are very close we may be able 
to see nothing else, but when we go a little way off 
they become minute and invisible. It is the same, 
again, as regards time. The little incidents and ac- 
cidents of every day fill us with emotion, anxiety, 
annoyance, passion, as long as they are close to us, 
when they appear so big, so important, so serious ; 
but as soon as they are borne down the restless stream 
of time they lose what significance they had ; we 
think no more of them and soon forget them alto- 
gether. They were big only because they were 

Joy and sorrow are not ideas of the mind 
affections of the will, and so they do not lie in the 
domain of memory. We cannot recall our joys and 
sorrows ; by which I mean that we cannot renew 
them. We can recall only the ideas that accompanied 
them ; and, in particular, the things we were led to 
say ; and these form a gauge of our feelings at the 
time. Hence our memory of joys and sorrows is 
always imperfect, and they become a matter of in- 
difference to us as soon as they are over. This ex- 
plains the vanity of the attempt, which we sometimes 
make, to revive the pleasures and the pains of the 
past. Pleasure and pain are essentially an affair of 
the will ; and the will, as such, is not possessed of 
memory, which is a function of the intellect; and 
this in its turn gives out and takes in nothing but 
thoughts and ideas, which are not here in question. 

It is a curious fact that in bad days we can very 



vividly recall the good time that is now no more ; but 
that in good days we have only a very cold and im- 
perfect memory of the bad. 

We have a much better memory for actual objects 
or pictures than for mere ideas. Hence a good im- 
agination makes it easier to learn languages ; for by 
its aid the new word is at once united with the 
actual object to which it refers ; whereas, if there is no 
imagination, it is simply put on a parallel with the 
equivalent word in the mother tongue. 

Mnemonics should not only mean the art of keeping 
something indirectly in the memory by the use of 
some direct pun or witticism ; it should, rather, be 
applied to a systematic theory of memory, and ex- 
plain its several attributes by reference both to its 
real nature and to the relation in which these at- 
tributes stand to one another. 

There are moments in life when our senses obtain 
a higher and rarer degree of clearness, apart from any 
particular occasion for it in the nature of our sur- 
roundings ; and explicable, rather, on physiological 
grounds alone, as the result of some enhanced state of 
susceptibility, working from within outwards. Such 
moments remain indelibly impressed upon the 
memory, and preserve themselves in their individual- 
ity entire. We can assign no reason for it, nor explain 
why this among so many thousand moments like it 
should be specially remembered. It seems as much a 
matter of chance as when single specimens of a whole 
race of animals now extinct are discovered in the 


layers of a rock ; or when, on opening a book, we 
light upon an insect accidentally crushed within the 
leaves. Memories of this kind are always sweet and 

It occasionally happens that, for no particular 
reason, long-forgotten scenes suddenly start up in the 
memory. This may in many cases be due to the 
action of some hardly perceptible odour, which 
accompanied those scenes and now recurs exactly the 
same as before. For it is well known that the sense 
of smell is specially effective in awaking memories, 
and that in general it does not require much to rouse 
a train of ideas. And I may say, in passing, that the 
sense of sight is connected with the understanding, 1 the 
sense of hearing with the reason, 2 and, as we see in 
the present case, the sense of smell with the memory, 
Touch and Taste are more material and dependent 
upon contact. They have no ideal side. 

. . . 

It must also be reckoned among the peculiar 
attributes of memory that a slight state of intoxica- 
tion often so greatly enhances the recollection of past 
times and scenes that all the circumstances connected 
with them come back much more clearly than would 
be possible in a state of sobriety; but that, on the 
other hand, the recollection of what one said or did 
while the intoxication lasted is more than usually 
imperfect ; nay, that if one has been absolutely tipsy, 
it is gone altogether. We may say, then, that 

1 Tier/ache Wurzel, 21. 
8 Parerga. vol. ii., 311. 


whilst intoxication enhances the memory for what is 
past it allows it to remember little of the present. 

Men need some kind of external activity, because 
they are inactive within. Contrarily, if they are 
active within, they do not care to be dragged 
out of themselves ; it disturbs and impedes their 
thoughts in a way that is often most ruinous 
to them. 

> t i 

I am not surprised that some people are bored 
when they find themselves alone ; for they cannot 
laugh if they are quite by themselves. The very idea 
of it seems folly to them. 

Are we, then, to look upon laughter as merely a 
signal for others a mere sign, like a word ? What 
makes it impossible for people to laugh when they are 
alone is nothing but want of imagination, dulness of 
mind generally dvaurQrjo-ta KOI /fyaSvr*)? ^vx^s, as 
Theophrastus has it. 1 The lower animals never laugh, 
either alone or in company. Myson, the misanthropist, 
was once surprised by one of these people as he was 
laughing to himself. Why do you laugh ? he asked ; 
there is no one with you. That is just why I am 
laughing, said Myson. 

Natural gesticulation, such as commonly accom- 
panies any lively talk, is a language of its own, more 
widespread, even, than the language of words so far, 
I mean, as it is independent of words and alike in all 
nations. It is true that nations make use of it in 
1 Character*, o. 27. 


proportion as they are vivacious, and that in particular 
cases, amongst the Italians for instance, it is supple- 
mented by certain peculiar gestures which are merely 
conventional, and therefore possessed of nothing more 
than a local value. 

In the universal use made of it gesticulation has 
some analogy with logic and grammar, in that it has 
to do with the form rather than with the matter of 
conversation ; but on the other hand it is distinguish- 
able from them by the fact that it has more of a moral 
than of an intellectual bearing ; in other words, it 
reflects the movements of the will. As an accompani- 
ment of conversation it is like the bass of a melody; 
and if, as in music, it keeps true to the progress of 
the treble, it serves to heighten the effect. 

In a conversation the gesture depends upon the 
form in which the subject-matter is conveyed ; and it 
is interesting to observe that, whatever that subject- 
matter may be, with a recurrence of the form the very 
same gesture is repeated. So if I happen to see from 
my window, say two persons carrying on a lively 
conversation, without my being able to catch a word, 
I can nevertheless understand the general nature of 
it perfectly well ; I mean the kind of thing that is 
being said and the form it takes. There is no mis- 
take about it. The speaker is arguing about some- 
thing, advancing his reasons, then limiting their appli- 
cation, then driving them home and drawing the 
conclusion in triumph; or he is recounting his 
experiences, proving, perhaps, beyond the shadow of a 
doubt, how much he has been injured, but bringing 
the clearest and most damning evidence to show that 


his opponents were foolish and obstinate peupie who 
would not be convinced ; or else he is telling of the 
splendid plan he laid, and how he carried it to a 
successful issue, or perhaps failed because the luck 
was against him ; or, it may be, he is saying that he 
was completely at a loss to know what to do, or that 
he was quick in seeing through some trap set for him, 
and that by insisting on his rights or by applying a 
little force he succeeded in frustrating and punishing 
his enemies; and so on in hundreds of cases of 
a similar kind. 

Strictly speaking, however, what I get from gesti- 
culation alone is an abstract notion of the essential 
drift of what is being said, and that, too, whether I 
judge from a moral or an intellectual point of view. 
It is the quintessence, the true substance of the con- 
versation, and this remains identical, no matter what 
may have given rise to the conversation, or what it 
may be about; the relation between the two being 
that of a general idea or class-name to the individuals 
which it covers. 

As I have said, the most interesting and amusing 
part of the matter is the complete identity and solidar- 
ity of the gestures used to denote the same set of cir- 
cumstances, even though by people of very different 
temperament ; so that the gestures become exactly 
like words of a language, alike for every one, and 
subject only to such small modifications as depend 
upon variety of accent and education. And yet there 
can be no doubt but that these standing gestures 
which every one uses are the result of no convention 
or collusion. They are original and innate a true 


language of nature ; consolidated, it may be, by imita- 
tion and the influence of custom. 

It is well known that it is part of an actor's duty to 
make a careful study of gesture ; and the same thing 
is true, to a somewhat smaller degree, of a public 
speaker. This study must consist chiefly in watching 
others and imitating their movements, for there are 
no abstract rules fairly applicable to the matter, with 
the exception of some very general leading principles, 
such as to take an example that the gesture must 
not follow the word, but rather come immediately 
before it, by way of announcing its approach and 
attracting the hearer's attention. 

Englishmen entertain a peculiar contempt for gesti- 
culation, and look upon it as something vulgar and 
undignified. This seems to me a silly prejudice on 
their part, and the outcome of their general prudery. 
For here we have a language which nature has given 
to every one, and which every one understands ; and 
to do away with and forbid it for no better reason 
than that it is opposed to that much-lauded thing, 
gentlemanly feeling, is a very questionable proceeding 



THE human intellect is said to be so constituted that 
general ideas arise by abstraction from particular 
observations, and therefore come after them in point 
of time. If this is what actually occurs, as happens 
in the case of a man who has to depend solely upon 
his own experience for what he learns, who has no 
teacher and no book, such a man knows quite well 
which of his particular observations belong to and are 
represented by each of his general ideas. He has a 
perfect acquaintance with both sides of his experi- 
ence, and accordingly he treats everything that comes 
in his way from a right standpoint. This might be 
called the natural method of education. 

Contrarily, the artificial method is to hear what 
other people say, to learn and to read, and so to get 
your head crammed full of general ideas before you 
have any sort of extended acquaintance with the 
world as it is, and as you may see it for yourself. 
You will be told that the particular observations 
which go to make these general ideas will come to 
you later on in the course of experience ; but until 
that time arrives you apply your general ideas 
wrongly, you judge men and things from a wrong 
standpoint, you see them in a wrong light, and treat 
them in a wrong way. So it is that education per- 
verts the mind. 


This explains why it so frequently happens that, 
after a long course of learning and reading, we enter 
upon the world in our youth, partly with an artless 
ignorance of things, partly with wrong notions about 
them ; so that our demeanour savours at one moment 
of a nervous anxiety, at another of a mistaken con- 
fidence. The reason of this is simply that our head is 
full of general ideas which we are now trying to turn 
to some use, but which we hardly ever apply rightly. 
This is the result of acting in direct opposition to the 
natural development of the mind by obtaining general 
ideas first, and particular observations last: it is 
putting the cart before the horse. Instead of de- 
veloping the child's own faculties of discernment, and 
teaching it to judge and think for itself, the teacher 
uses all his energies to stuff its head full of the ready- 
made thoughts of other people. The mistaken views 
of life, which spring from a false application of general 
ideas, have afterwards to be corrected by long years 
of experience ; and it is seldom that they are wholly 
corrected. This is why so few men of learning are 
possessed of common-sense, such as is often to be met 
with in people who have had no instruction at all 

To acquire a knowledge of the world might be de- 
fined as the aim of all education ; and it follows from 
what I have said that special stress should be laid 
upon beginning to acquire this knowledge at the right 
end. As I have shown, this means, in the main, that 
the particular observation of a thing shall precede the 
general idea of it ; further, that narrow and circum- 
scribed ideas shall come before ideas of a wide range. 
It means, therefore, that the whole system of educa- 


fcion shall follow in the steps that must have been 
taken by the ideas themselves in the course of their 
formation. But whenever any of these steps are 
skipped or left out the instruction is defective, and 
the ideas obtained are false ; and finally a distorted 
view of the world arises, peculiar to the individual 
himself a view such as almost everyone entertains 
for some time, and most men for as long as they live. 
No one can look into his own mind without seeing 
that it was only after reaching a very mature age, * 
and in some cases when he least expected it, that he w 
came to a right understanding or a clear view of 
many matters in his life that, after all, were not 
very difficult or complicated. Up till then they were 
points in his knowledge of the world which were still 
obscure, due to his having skipped some particular 
lesson in those early days of his education, what- 
ever it may have been like whether artificial and 
conventional, or of that natural kind which is based 
upon individual experience. 

It follows that an attempt should be made to find 
out the strictly natural course of knowledge, so that 
education may proceed methodically by keeping to it ; 
and that children may beeome acquainted with the 
ways of the world without getting wrong ideas into 
their heads, which very often cannot be got out again. 
If this plan were adopted, special care would have to 
be taken to prevent children from using words with- 
out clearly understanding their meaning and appli- 
cation. The fatal tendency to be satisfied with words 
instead of trying to understand things to learn 
phrases by heart, so that they may prove a refuge in 




time of need, exists, as a rule, even in children ; and 
the tendency lasts on into manhood, making the 
knowledge of many learned persons to consist in 
mere verbiage. 

* However, the main endeavour must always be to 
let particular observations precede general ideas, and 
not vice versa, as is usually and unfortunately the 
case ; as though a child should come feet foremost into 
the world, or a verse be begun by writing down the 
rhyme ! The ordinary method is to imprint ideas and 
opinions, in the strict sense of the word, prejudices, 
on the mind of the child, before it has had any but 
a very few particular observations. It is thus that 
he afterwards comes to view the world and gather 
experience through the medium of those ready-made 
ideas, rather than to let his ideas be formed for 
him out of his own experience of life, as they 
ought to be. 

A man sees a great many things when he looks at 
the world for himself, and he sees them from many 
sides ; but this method of learning is not nearly so 
short or so quick as the method which employs 
abstract ideas and makes hasty generalisations about 
everything. Experience, therefore, will be a long time 
in correcting preconceived ideas, or perhaps never 
bring its task to an end ; for, wherever a man finds 
that the aspect of things seems to contradict the 
general ideas he has formed, he will begin by rejecting 
the evidence it offers as partial and one-sided ; nay, he 
will shut his eyes to it altogether and deny that it 
stands in any contradiction at all with his precon- 
ceived notions, in order that he may thus preserve 


them uninjured. So it is that many a man carries 
about a burden of wrong notions all his life long 
crotchets, whims, fancies, prejudices, which at last 
become fixed ideas. iThe fact is that he has never 
tried to form his fundamental ideas for himself out of 
his own experience of life, his own way of looking 
at the world, because he has taken over his ideas 
ready-made from other people; and this it is that 
makes him as it makes how many others! so 
shallow and superficial A 

Instead of that method of instruction care should 
be taken to educate children on the natural lines. 
No idea should ever be established in a child's mind 
otherwise than by what the child can see for itself, or 
at any rate it should be verified by the same means ; 
and the result of this would be that the child's ideas, if 
few, would be well-grounded and accurate. It would 
learn how to measure things by its own standard 
rather than by another's ; and so it would escape a 
thousand strange fancies and prejudices, and not need 
to have them eradicated by the lessons it will subse- 
quently be taught in the school of life. The child 
would, in this way, have its mind once for all 
habituated to clear views and thorough -going 
knowledge : it would use its own judgment and 
take an unbiased estimate of things. 

And, in general, children should not form their 
notions of what life is like from the copy before they 
have learned it from the original, to whatever aspect 
of it their attention may be directed. Instead, there- 
fore; of hastening to place books, and books alone, in 
their hands, let them be made acquainted, step by 


step, with things with the actual circumstances of 
human life. And above all let care be taken to bring 
them to a clear and objective view of the world as it is, 
to educate them always to derive their ideas directly 
from real life, and to shape them in conformity with 
it not to fetch ijiem from other sources, such as books, 
fairy tales, or what people say, and then apply them 
ready-made to real Ufa For this will mean that 
their heads are full of wrong notions, and that 
they will either see things in a false light or 
try in vain to remodel the world to suit their views, 
and so enter upon false paths ; and that, too, whether 
they are only constructing theories of life or engaged 
in the actual business of it It is incredible how much 
harm is done when the seeds of wrong notions are 
laid in the mind in those early years, later on to bear 
a crop of prejudice ; for the subsequent lessons which 
are learned from real life in the world have to be 
devoted mainly to their extirpation. To unlearn the 
evil was the answer which, according to Diogenes 
Laertius, 1 Antisthenes gave, when he was asked what 
branch of knowledge was most necessary ; and we can 
see what he meant 

No child under the age of fifteen should receive 
instruction in subjects which may possibly be the 
vehicle of serious error, such as philosophy, religion, 
or any other branch of knowledge where it is 
necessary to take large views ; because wrong notions 
imbibed early can seldom be rooted out, and of all the 
intellectual faculties judgment is the last to arrive \ 
at maturity. The child should give its attention 


either to subjects where no error is possible at all, 
such as mathematics, or to those in which there is no 
particular danger in making a mistake, such as 
languages, natural science, history, and so on. And in 
general, the branches of knowledge which are to be 
studied at any period of life should be such as the 
mind is equal to at that period and can perfectly 
understand. Childhood and youth form the time for 
collecting materials, for getting a special and thorough 
knowledge of individual and particular things. In 
those years it is too early to form views on a large 
scale ; and ultimate explanations must be put off to a 
later date. The faculty of judgment, which cannot 
come into play without mature experience, should be 
left to itself ; and care should be taken not to anti- 
cipate its action by inculcating prejudice, which will 
paralyse it for ever. 

On the other hand, the memory should be specially 
taxed in youth, since it is then that it is strongest and 
most tenacious. But in choosing the things that 
should be committed to memory the utmost care and 
forethought must be exercised ; as lessons well learnt 
in youth are never forgotten. This precious soil 
must therefore be cultivated so as to bear as much 
fruit as possible. If you think how deeply rooted in 
your memory are those persons whom you knew in 
the first twelve years of your life, how indelible the 
impression made upon you by the events of those 
years, how clear your recollection of most of the 
things that happened to you then, most of what was 
told or taught you, it will seem a natural thing to 
take the susceptibility ani tenacity of the mind at 


that period as the groundwork of education. This 
may be done by a strict observance of method, and a 
systematic regulation of the impressions which the 
mind is to receive. 

But the years of youth allotted to man are short, 
and memory is, in general, bound within narrow 
limits; still more so the memory of any one indi- 
vidual. Since this is the case, it is all-important to 
fill the memory with what is essential and material 
in any branch of knowledge, to the exclusion of 
everything else. The decision as to what is essential 
and material should rest with the master-minds in 
every department of thought ; their choice should be 
made after the most mature deliberation, and the 
outcome of it fixed and determined. Such a choice 
would have to proceed by sifting the things which it 
is necessary and important for a man to know in 
general, and then necessary and important for him to 
know in any particular business or calling. Know- 
ledge of the first kind would have to be classified, 
after an encyclopaedic fashion, in graduated courses, 
adapted to the degree of general culture which a man 
may be expected to have in the circumstances in 
which he is placed ; beginning with a course limited 
to the necessary requirements of primary education, 
and extending upwards to the subjects treated of in 
all the branches of philosophical thought. The 
regulation of the second kind of knowledge would be 
left to those who had shown genuine mastery in the 
several departments into which it is divided ; and 
the whole system would provide an elaborate rule or 
canon for intellectual education, which would, of 


course, have to be revised every ten years. Some 
such arrangement as this would employ the youthful 
power of the memory to best advantage, and supply 
excellent working material to the faculty of judgment, 
when it made its appearance later on. 

A man's knowledge may be said to be mature, in 
other words, to have reached the most complete state 
of perfection to which he, as an individual, is capable 
of bringing it, when an exact correspondence is estab- 
lished between the whole of his abstract ideas and the 
things he has actually perceived for himself. This 
will mean that each of his abstract ideas rests, directly 
or indirectly, upon a basis of observation, which alone 
endows it with any real value ; and also that he is 
able to place every observation he makes under the 
right abstract idea which belongs to it.| Maturity 
is the work of experience alone ; and therefore it re- 
quires time. The knowledge we derive from our own 
observation is usually distinct from that which we 
acquire through the medium of abstract ideas; the 
one coming to us in the natural way, the other by 
what people tell us, and the course of instruction we 
receive, whether it is good or bad. The result is that 
in youth there is generally very little agreement or 
correspondence between our abstract ideas, which are 
merely phrases fixed in the mind, and that real know- 
ledge which we have obtained by our own observation. 
It is only later on that a gradual approach takes place 
between these two kinds of knowledge, accompanied 
by a mutual correction of error; and knowledge is 
not mature until this coalition is accomplished. This 
maturity or perfection of knowledge is something 


quite independent of another kind of perfection, which 
may be of a high or a low order the perfection, 1 
mean, to which a man may bring his own individual 
faculties ; which is measured, not by any correspond- 
ence between the two kinds of knowledge, but by 
the degree of intensity which each kind attains. 

For the practical man the most needful thing is to 
acquire an accurate and profound knowledge of the 
ways of the world. But this, though the mdsTneed- 
ful, is also the most wearisome of all studies, as a man 
may reach a great age without coming to the end of 
his task ; whereas, in the domain of the sciences, 
he masters the more important facts when he is 
still young. In acquiring that knowledge of the 
world, it is while he is a novice, namely, in boy- 
hood and in youth, that the first and hardest lessons 
are put before him ; but it often happens that even in 
later years there is still a great deal to be learned. 

The study is difficult enough in itself ; but the diffi- 
culty is doubled by novels, which represent a state of 
things in life and the world such as, in fact, does not 
exist. Youth is credulous, and accepts these views of 
life, which then become part and parcel of the mind ; 
so that, instead of a merely negative condition of 
ignorance, you have positive error a whole tissue of 
false notions to start with ; and at a later date these 
actually spoil the schooling of experience, and put a 
wrong construction on the lessons it teaches. If, be- 
fore this, the youth had no light at all to guide him, 
he is now misled by a will-o'-the-wisp ; still more 
often is this the case with a girL They have both 
had a false view of things foisted on to them by read- 


ing novels ; and expectations have been aroused which 
can never be fulfilled. This generally exercises a 
baneful influence on their whole life. In this respect 
those whose youth has allowed them no time or oppor- 
tunity for reading novels those who work with their 
hands and the like are in a position of decided ad- 
vantage. There are a few novels to which this re- 
proach cannot be addressed nay, which have an 
effect the contrary of bad. First and foremost, to give 
an example, Gil Bias, and the other works of Le Sage 
(or rather their Spanish originals) ; further, The Vicar 
of Wakefield, and, to some extent, Sir Walter Scott's 
novels. Don Quixote may be regarded as a satirical 
exhibition of the error to which I am referring. 



SCHILLER'S poem in honour of women, Wurde det 
Frauen, is the result of much careful thought, and it 
appeals to the reader by its antithetic style and its 
use of contrast ; but as an expression of the true 
praise which should be accorded to them, it is, I think, 
inferior to these few words of Jouy's : Without 
women the beginning of our life would be helpless ; 
the middle, devoid of pleasure ; and the end, of con- 
solation. The same thing is more feelingly expressed 
by Byron in Sa/rdanapalus : 

The very first 

Of human life must sprung from woman's breast, 
Your first smatt words are taught you from her lips^ 
Your first tears quench' d by her, and your last sight 
Too often breathed out in a woman's liearing, 
When men have shrunk from the ignoble care 
Of watching the last hour of him who led them. 

(Act I. Scene 2.) 

These two passages indicate the right standpoint for 
the appreciation of women. 

You need only look at the way in which she is 
formed to see that woman is not meant to undergo 
great labour, whether of the mind or of the body. 
She pays the debt of life not by what she does but 
by what she suffers ; by the pains of childbearing and 



care for the child, and by submission to her husband, 
to whom she should be a patient and cheering com- 
panion. The keenest sorrows and joys are not for 
her, nor is she called upon to display a great deal of 
strength. The current of her life should be more 
gentle, peaceful and trivial than man's, without being 
essentially happier or unhappier. 

1 Women are directly fitted for acting as the nurses 
and teachers of our early childhood by the fact that 
they are themselves childish, frivolous and short- 
sighted ; in a word, they are big children all their life 
long a kind of intermediate stage between the child 
and the full-grown man, who is man in the strict 
sense of the word. See how a girl will fondle a child 
for days together, dance with it and sing to it ; and 
then think what a man, with the best will in the 
world, could do if he were put in her place. 
fWith young girls Nature seems to have had in 
view what, in the language of the drama, is called 
a coup de theatre. For a few years she dowers them 
with a wealth of beauty and is lavish in her gift of 
charm, at the expense of the rest of their life, in order 
that during those years thev may capture the fantasy 
of some man to such a degree that he is hurried 
into undertaking the honourable care of them, in some 
form or other, as long as they live a step for which 
there would not appear to be any sufficient warranty 
if reason only directed his thoughts. Accordingly 
Nature has equipped woman, as she does all her 
creatures, with the weapons and implements requisite 
for the safeguarding of her existence, and for just as 
long a it is necessary for her to have them. Here, 



ON WOMEN. 107 

as elsewhere, Nature proceeds with her usual economy; 
for just as the female ant, after fecundation, loses her 
wings, which are then superfluous, nay, actually a 
danger to the business of breeding ; so, after giving 
birth to one or two children, a woman generally loses 
her beauty ; probably, indeed, for similar reasons] 

And so we find that young girls, in their hearts, look 
upon domestic affairs or work of any kind as of 
secondary importance, if not actually as a mere jest. 
The only business that really claims their earnest 
attention is love, making conquests, and everything 
connected with this dress, dancing, and so on. 

The nobler and more perfect a thing is, the later 
and slower it is in arriving at maturity. A man 
reaches the maturity of his reasoning powers and 
mental faculties hardly before the age of twenty-eight; 
a woman, at eighteen. And then, too, in the case of 
woman, it is only reason of a sort very niggard in 
its dimensions. That is why women remain children 
their whole life long ; never seeing anything but what 
is quite close to them, cleaving to the present moment, 
taking appearance for reality, and preferring trifles 
to matters of the first importance. For it is by virtue 
of his reasoning faculty that man does not live in the 
present only, like the brute, but looks about him and 
considers the past and the future; and this is the 
origin of prudence, as well as of that care and anxiety 
which so many people exhibit. ( Both the advantages 
and the disadvantages which this involves, are shared 
in by the woman to a smaller extent because of her 
weaker power of reasoning^ She may, in fact, be de- 
scribed as intellectually shortsighted, because, while 


she has an intuitive understanding of what lies quite 
close to her, her field of vision is narrow and does not 
reach to what is remote : so that things which are 
absent or past or to come have much less effect upon 
women than upon men. This is the reason why 
women are more often inclined to be extravagant, 
and sometimes carry their inclination to a length that 
borders upon madness. In their hearts women think 
that it is men's business to earn money and theirs to 
spend it if possible during their husband's life, but, 
at any rate, after his death. The very fact that their 
husband hands them over his earnings for purposes 
of housekeeping strengthens them in this belief. 

However many disadvantages all this may involve, 
there is at least this to be said in its favour : that the 
woman lives more in the present than the man, and 
that, if the present is at all tolerable, she enjoys it 
more eagerly. ) This is the source of that cheerfulness 
which is peculiar to woman, fitting her to amuse 
man in his hours of recreation, and, in case of need, 
to console l^im when he is borne down by the weight 
of his cares. 

It is by no means a bad plan to consult women in 
matters of difficulty, as the Germans used to do in 
ancient times ; for their way of looking at things is 
quite different from ours, chiefly in the fact that they 
like to take the shortest way to their goal, and, in 
general, manage to fix their eyes upon what lies 
before them ; while we, as a rule, see far beyond it, 
just because it is in front of our noses. In cases like 
this, we need to be brought back to the right stand- 
point, so as to recover the near and simple view. 

ON WOMEN. 109 

Then, again, women are decidedly more sober in 
their judgment than we are, so that they do not see 
more in things than is really there; whilst, if our 
passions are aroused, we are apt to see things in an 
exaggerated way, or imagine what does not exist. 

The weakness of their reasoning faculty also ex- 
plains why it is that women show more sympathy for 
the unfortunate than men do, and so treat them with 
more kindness and interest ; and why it is that, on 
the contrary, they are inferior to men in point of 
justice, and less honourable and conscientious. For it 
is just because their reasoning power is weak that 
present circumstances have such a hold over them, 
and those concrete things which lie directly before 
their eyes exercise a power which is seldom counter- 
acted to any extent by abstract principles of thought, 
by fixed rules of conduct, firm resolutions, or, in 
general, by consideration for the past and the future, 
or regard for what is absent and remote. Accord- 
ingly, they possess the first and main elements that 
go to make a virtuous character, but they are deficient 
in those secondary qualities which are often a neces- 
sary instrument in the formation of it. 1 
| Hence it will be found that the fundamental fault 
of the female character is that it has no sense of 
^justice. This is mainly due to the fiact, already 
mentioned, that women are defective in the powers of 
reasoning and deliberation ; but it is also traceable to 

* In this respect they may be compared to an animal organism 
which contains a liver but no gall-bladder. Here let me refer 
to what I have said in my treatise on The Foundation oj 
Moral*, 17. 


the position which Nature has assigned to them as 
the weaker sex. They are dependent, not upon 
strength, but upon craft ; and hence their instinctive 
capacity for cunning, and their ineradicable tendency 
to say what is not true. For as lions are provided 
with claws and teeth, and elephants and boars with 
tusks, bulls with horns, and the cuttle fish with its 
cloud of inky fluid, so Nature has equipped woman, 
for her defence and protection, with the arts of dis- 
simulation ; and all the power which Nature has 
conferred upon man in the shape of physical strength 
and reason has been bestowed upon women in this 
form. Hence dissimulation is innate in woman, and 
almost as much a quality of the stupid as of the 
clever. It is as natural for them to make use of it 
on every occasion as it is for those animals to employ 
their means of defence when they are attacked ; they 
have a feeling that in doing so they are only within 
their rights. Therefore a woman who is perfectly 
truthful and not given to dissimulation is perhaps an 
impossibility, and for this very reason they are so 
quick at seeing through dissimulation in others that 
it is not a wise thing to attempt it with them. But 
this fundamental defect which I have stated, with all 
that it entails, gives rise to falsity, faithlessness, 
treachery, ingratitude, and so on. Perjury in a court 
of justice is more often committed by women than by 
men. It may, indeed, be generally questioned whether 
women ought to be sworn at all. From time to time 
one finds repeated cases everywhere of ladies, who 
want for nothing, taking things from shop-counters 
when no one is looking and making off with them. 


Nature has appointed that the propagation of the 
species shall be the business of men who are young, 
strong and handsome ; so that the race may not degene- 
rate. This is the firm will and purpose of Nature in 
regard to the species, and it finds its expression in / 
the passions of women. There is no law that is older^-' 
or more powerful than this. Woe, then, to the man 
who sets up claims and interests that will conflict 
with it ; whatever he may say and do, they will be 
unmercifully crushed at the first serious encounter. 
For the innate rule that governs women's conduct, 
though it is secret and unformulated, nay, unconscious 
in its working, is this : We are justified in deceiving 
those who think they have acquired rights over the 
species by paying little attention to the individual, 
that is, to us. The constitution and, therefore, the 
welfare of the species have been placed in our hands 
and committed to our care, through the control we 
obtain over the next generation, which proceeds from 
us; let its discharge our duties conscientiously. But 
women have no abstract knowledge of this leading 
principle ; they are conscious of it only as a concrete 
fact ; and they have no other method of giving expres- 
sion to it than the way in which they act when the 
opportunity arrives. And then their conscience does 
not trouble them so much as we fancy; for in the 
darkest recesses of their heart they are aware that, in 
committing a breach of their duty towards the indi- 
vidual, they have all the better fulfilled their duty 
towards the species, which is infinitely greater. 1 

1 A more detailed discussion of the matter in question may 
be found in my chief work, Die Welt als WUle und Vorstelbvng, 
vol. ii., ch. 44 


And since women exist in the main solely for the 
propagation of the species, and are not destined for 
anything else, they live, as a rule, more for the species 
than for the individual, and in their hearts take the 
affairs of the species more seriously than those of the 
individual. This gives their whole life and being a 
certain levity ; the general bent of their character is 
in a direction fundamentally different from that of 
man ; and it is this which produces that discord in 
married life which is so frequent, and almost the 
normal state. 

The natural feeling between men is mere indif- 
ference, but between women it is actual enmity. The 
reason of this is that trade-jealousy odium figuli- 
num which, in the case of men, does not go beyond 
the confines of their own particular pursuit but with 
women embraces the whole sex ; since they have 
only one kind of business. Even when they meet in 
the street women look at one another like Guelphs 
and Ghibellines. And it is a patent fact that when 
two women make first acquaintance with each other 
they behave with more constraint and dissimulation 
than two men would show in a like case ; and hence 
it is that an exchange of compliments between two 
women is a much more ridiculous proceeding than 
between two men, Further, whilst a man will, as a 
general rule, always preserve a certain amount of 
consideration and humanity in speaking to others, 
even to those who are in a very inferior position, it is 
intolerable to see how proudly and disdainfully a fine 
lady will generally behave towards one who is in a 
lo vver social rank (I do not mean a woman who is in 

ON WOMEN. 113 

her service), whenever she speaks to her. The reason 
of this may be that, with women, differences of rank 
are much more precarious than with us ; because, 
while a hundred considerations carry weight in our 
case, in theirs there is only one, namely, with which 
man they have found favour ; as also that they stand 
in much nearer relations with one another than men 
do, in consequence of the one-sided nature of their 
calling. This makes them endeavour to lay stress 
upon differences of rank. . 

It is only the man whose intellect is clouded by his\ 
sexual impulses that could give the name of the fair 
sex to that undersized, narrow-shouldered, broad- 
hipped, and short-legged race : for the whole beauty 
of the sex is bound up with this impulse. Instead of 
calling them beautiful, there would be more warrant 
for describing women as the unaesthetic sex. Neither 
for music, nor for poetry, nor for fine art, have they 
really and truly any sense or susceptibility; it is a 
mere mockery if they make a pretence of it in order 
to assist their endeavour to please. Hence, as a 
result of this, they are incapable of taking a purely \ 
objective interest in anything; and the reason of it 
seems to me to be as follows. A man tries to acquire 
direct mastery over things, either by understanding 
them or by forcing them to do his will. But a woman 
is always and everywhere reduced to obtaining this 
mastery indirectly, namely through a man; and what- 
ever direct mastery she may have is entirely confined 
to him. And so it lies in woman's nature to look 
upon everything only as a means for conquering man ; 
and if she takes an interest in anything else it is 



simulated a mere roundabout way of gaming her 
ends by coquetry and feigning what she does not feel 
Hence even Rousseau declared : Women have, in 
general, no love of any art ; they have no proper know- 
ledge of any ; and they have no genius* 

No one who sees at all below the surface can have 
failed to remark the same thing. You need only ob- 
serve the kind of attention women bestow upon a 
conceit, an opera, or a play the childish simplicity, 
for example, with which they keep on chattering 
during the finest passages in the greatest masterpieces. 
If it is true that the Greeks excluded women from 
their theatres, they were quite right in what they did ; 
at any rate you would have been able to hear what 
was said upon the stage. In our day, besides, or in 
lieu of saying, Let a woman keep silence in the church, 
it would be much to the point to say, Let a woman 
keep silence in the theatre. This might, perhaps, be 
put up in big letters on the curtain. 

And you cannot expect anything else of women if 
you consider that the most distinguished intellects 
among the whole sex have never managed to produce 
a single achievement in the fine arts that is really 
great, genuine, and original; or given to the world any 
work of permanent value in any sphere. This is 
most strikingly shown in regard to painting, where 
mastery of technique is at least as much within their 
power as within ours and hence they are diligent in 
cultivating it ; but still, they have not a single great 
painting to boast of, just because they are deficient in 
that objectivity of mind which is so directly indis- 
1 Lettre k d'Alembert. Note xx. 

ON WOMEN. 116 

pensable in painting. They never get beyond a sub- 
jective point of view. It is quite in keeping with this 
that ordinary women have no real susceptibility for 
art at all ; for Nature proceeds in strict sequence 
non facit saltum. And Huarte 1 in his Examen de 
ingenios para las scienzias a book which has been 
famous for three hundred years denies women the 
possession of all the higher faculties. The case is not 
altered by particular and partial exceptions ; taken 
as a whole, women are, and remain, thorough-going 
- philistines, and quite incurable. Hence, with that 
absurd arrangement which allows them to share the 
rank and title of their husbands, they are a constant 
stimulus to his ignoble ambitions. And, further, it is 
just because they are philistines that modern society, 
where they take the lead and set the tone, is in such 
a bad way. Napoleon's saying that women have no 
rank should be adopted as the right standpoint in 
determining their position in society ; and as regards 
their other qualities Chamf ort 2 makes the very true 
remark : They are made to trade with our own weak- 
nesses and our follies, but not with our reason. The 
sympathies that exist between them and men are skin- 
deep only, and do not touch the mind or the feelings 
or the character. They form the sexus sequior the 
second sex, inferior in every respect to the first ; their 
infirmities should be treated with consideration ; but 
to show them great reverence is extremely ridiculous, 

1 Translator's Note. Juan Huarte (1520 ? 1590) practised as 
a physician at Madrid. The work cited by Schopenhauer ia 
well known, and has been translated into many languages. 

2 Translator's Note. See Counsels and Mas****, p. 12, Note, 


and lowers us in their eyes. When Nature made two 
divisions of the human race, she did not draw the 
line exactly through the middle. These divisions are 
polar and opposed to each other, it is true; but the 
difference between them is not qualitative merely, it 
is also quantitative. 

This is just the view which the ancients took of 
woman, and the view which people in the East take 
now ; and their judgment as to her proper position is 
much more correct than ours, with our old French 
notions of gallantry and our preposterous system of rev- 
erence that highest product of Teutonico-Christian 
stupidity. These notions have served only to make 
women more arrogant and overbearing; so that one is 
occasionally reminded of the holy apes in Benares, who 
in the consciousness of their sanctity and inviolable 
position think they can do exactly as they please. 

But in the West the woman, and especially the 
lady, finds herself in a false position ; for woman, 
rightly called by the ancients sexua sequior, is by no 
means fit to be the object of our honour and venera- 
tion, or to hold her head higher than man and be on 
equal terms with him. The consequences of this false 
position are sufficiently obvious. Accordingly it 
would be a very desirable thing if this Number Two of 
the human race were in Europe also relegated to her 
natural place, and an end put to that lady-nuisance, 
which not only moves all Asia to laughter but would 
have been ridiculed by Greece and Rome as well. It 
is impossible to calculate the good effects which such a 
change would bring about in our social, civil and 
political arrangements. There would be no necessity 

ON WOMEN. 117 

for the Salic law : it would be a superfluous truism. -^ 
/n Europe the lady, strictly so-called, is a being who 
should not exist at all ; she should be either a house- 
wife or a girl who hopes to become one ; and she 
should be brought up, not to be arrogant, but to be 
thrifty and submissive. It is just because there are 
such people as ladies in Europe that the women of the 
lower classes, that is to say, the great majority of the 
sex, are much more unhappy than they are in the East. 
And even Lord Byron says : Thought of the state of 
women under the ancient Greeks convenient enough. 
Present state, a remnant of the barbarism of the chiv- 
alric and the feudal ages artificial and unnatural. 
They ought to mind home and be well fed and 
clothed but not mixed in society. Well educated, too, 
in religion but to read neither poetry nor politics 
nothing but books of piety and cookery. Music 
drawing dancing also a little gardening and 
ploughing now and then. I have seen them mending 
the roads in Epirus with good success. Why not, as 
well as hdy-mdking and milking ? 
A The laws of marriage prevailing in Europe consider 
the woman as the equivalent of the man start, that 
is to say, from a wrong position. In our part of the / 
world where monogamy is the rule, to marry means 
to halve one's rights and double one's dutiesy Now 
when the laws gave women equal rights with man, 
they ought to have also endowed her with a masculine 
intellect. But the fact is that, just in proportion as 
the honours and privileges which the laws accord to 
women exceed the amount which Nature gives, there 
is a diminution in the number of women who really 


participate in these privileges ; and all the remainder 
are deprived of their natural rights by just so much 
as is given to the others over and above their share. 
For the institution of monogamy, and the laws of 
marriage which it entails, bestow upon the woman an 
unnatural position of privilege, by considering her 
throughout as the full equivalent of the man, which 
is by no means the case ; and seeing this men who 
are shrewd and prudent very often scruple to make 
so great a sacrifice and to acquiesce in so unfair an 

Consequently, whilst among polygamous nations 
every woman is provided for, where monogamy pre- 
vails the number of married women is limited ; and 
there remains over a large number of women with- 
out stay or support, who, in the upper classes, vege- 
tate as useless old maids, and in the lower succumb 
to hard work for which they are not suited ; or else 
become filles dejoie, whose life is as destitute of joy 
as it is of honour. But under the circumstances they 
become a necessity; and their position is openly recog- 
nised as serving the special end of warding off tempta- 
tion from those women favoured by fate, who have 
found, or may hope to find, husbands. In London 
alone there are 80,000 prostitutes. What are they 
but the women, who, under the institution of mono- 
gamy, have come off worst ? Theirs is a dreadful 
fate : they are human sacrifices offered up on the altar 
of monogamy. The women whose wretched position 
is here described are the inevitable set-off to the 
European lady with her arrogance and pretension. 
Polygamy is therefore a real benefit to the female sex 

ON WOMEN. 119 

if it is taken as a whole. And, from another point of 
view, there is no true reason why a man whose wife 
suffers from chronic illness, or remains barren, or has 
gradually become too old for him, should not take a * 
second. The motives which induce so many people to 
become converts to Mormonism 1 appear to be just 
those which militate against the unnatural institution 
of monogamy. 

Moreover, the bestowal of unnatural rights upon 
women has imposed upon them unnatural duties, and 
nevertheless a breach of these duties makes them un- 
happy. Let me explain. A man may often think 
that his social or financial position will suffer if he 
marries, unless he makes some brilliant alliance. His 
desire will then be to win a woman of his own choice 
under conditions other than those of marriage, such 
as will secure her position and that of the children. 
However fair, reasonable, fit and proper these con- 
ditions may be, if the woman consents by foregoing 
that undue amount of privilege which marriage alone 
can bestow, she to some extent loses her honour, be- 
cause marriage is the basis of civic society ; and she 
will lead an unhappy life, since human nature is so 
constituted that we pay an attention to the opinion 
of other people which is out of all proportionate to 
its value. On the other hand, if she does not consent, 
she runs the risk either of having to be given in 
marriage to a man whom she does not like, or of 
being landed high and dry as an old maid ; for the 
period during which she has a chance of being settled 

1 Translators Note. The Mormons have recently given up 
polygamy, and received the American franchise in its stead. 


for life is very short. And in view of this aspect of 
the institution of monogamy, Thomasius' profoundly 
learned treatise de Goncubinatu is well worth read- 
ing ; for it shows that, amongst all nations and in all 
ages, down to the Lutheran Reformation, concubinage 
was permitted ; nay, that it was an institution which 
was to a certain extent actually recognised by law, 
and attended with no dishonour. It was only the 
Lutheran Reformation that degraded it from this 
position. It was seen to be a further justifica- 
tion for the marriage of the clergy ; and then, after 
that, the Catholic Church did not dare to remain 
behindhand in the matter. 

There is no use arguing about polygamy ; it must 
be taken as de facto existing everywhere, and the 
only question is as to how it shall be regulated. 
Where are there, then, any real monogamists ? We 
all live, at any rate, for a time, and most of us, always, 
in polygamy. And so, since every man needs many 
women, there is nothing fairer than to allow him, nay, 
to make it incumbent upon him, to provide for many 
women This will reduce woman to her true and 
natural position as a subordinate being ; and the lady 
that monster of European civilisation and Teutonico- 
Christian stupidity will disappear from the world, 
leaving only women, but no more unhappy women, 
of whom Europe is now full. 

In India no woman is ever independent, but in 

accordance with the law of Manu, 1 she stands under 

the control of her father, her husband, her brother 01 

her son. It is, to be sure, a revolting thing that a 

1 Ch. V., v. 148, 

ON WOMEW. 121 

widow should immolate herself upon her husband's 
funeral pyre ; but it is also revolting that she should 
spend her husband's money with her paramours the 
money for which he toiled his whole life long, in the 
consoling belief that he was providing for his children. 
Happy are those who have kept the middle course 
medium tenuere beati. 

The first love of a mother for her child is, with the 
lower animals as with men, of a purely instinctive 
character, and so it ceases when the child is no longer 
in a physically helpless condition. After that, the 
first love should give way to one that is based on 
habit and reason ; but this often fails to make its 
appearance, especially where the mother did not love 
the father. The love of a father for his child is of a 
different order, and more likely to last ; because it 
has its foundation in the fact that in the child he 
recognises his own inner self ; that is to say, his love 
for it is metaphysical in its origin. 

In almost all nations, whether of the ancient or the 
modern world, even amongst the Hottentots, 1 pro- 
perty is inherited by the male descendants alone ; it 
is only in Europe that a departure has taken place ; 
but not amongst the nobility, however. That the 
property which has cost men long years of toil and 
effort, and been won with so much difficulty, should 
afterwards come into the hands of women, who then, 
in their lack of reason, squander it in a short time, or 
otherwise fool it away, is a grievance and a wrong, as 

1 Leroy, Letlres philosophiques swr VintelUgence et la perfect^ 
bilitd des animaux, avec quelques lettres sur Vhomme, p. 298, 
Paris, 1802. 


serious as it is common, which should be prevented 
by limiting the right of women to inherit. In my 
opinion the best arrangement would be that by which 
women, whether widows or daughters, should never 
receive anything beyond the interest for life on pro- 
perty secured by mortgage, and in no case the pro- 
perty itself, or the capital, except where all male 
descendants fail. The people who make money are 
men, not women ; and it follows from this that women 
are neither justified in having unconditional possession 
of it, nor fit persons to be entrusted with its adminis- 
tration. When wealth, in any true sense of the word, 
that is to say, funds, houses or land, is to go to them 
as an inheritance, they should never be allowed the 
free disposition of it. In their case a guardian should 
always be appointed ; and hence they should never 
be given the free control of their own children, 
wherever it can be avoided. The vanity of women, 
even though it should not prove to be greater than 
that of men, has this much danger in it that it takes 
an entirely material direction. They are vain, I 
mean, of their personal beauty, and then of finery, 
show and magnificence. That is just why they are 
so much in their element in society. It is this, too, 
which makes them so inclined to be extravagant, all 
the more as their reasoning power is low. Accord- 
ingly we find an ancient writer describing woman as 
in general of an extravagant nature Tvvy TO wvoXov 
IO-TI BaTravTjpov ^vcrti. 1 But with men vanity often takes 
the direction of non-material advantages, such as 
intellect, learning, courage. 

1 Brunck's Gnomici poetae graeci, v. 115. 

ON WOMEN. 123 

In the Politics 1 Aristotle explains the great disad- 
vantage which accrued to the Spartans from the fact 
that they conceded too much to their women, by 
giving them the right of inheritance and dower, 
and a great amount of independence ; and he shows 
how much this contributed to Sparta's fall. May it 
not be the case in France that the influence of women, 
which went on increasing steadily from the time of 
Louis XIII, was to blame for that gradual corruption 
of the Court and the Government, which brought 
about the Revolution of 1789, of which all subsequent 
disturbances have been the fruit ? However that 
may be, the false position which women occupy, 
demonstrated as it is, in the most glaring way, by the 
institution of the lady, is a fundamental defect in our 
social scheme, and this defect, proceeding from the 
very heart of it, must spread its baneful influence in 
all directions. 

/ That woman is by nature meant to obey may be 
seen by the fact that every woman who is placed in 
the unnatural position of complete independence, 
immediately attaches herself to some man, by whom 
she allows herself to be guided and ruled. It is 
because she needs a lord and master. If she is young, 
it will be a lover ; if she is old, a priest. ; 

1 Bk. I , ch. 9. 



KANT wrote a treatise on The Vital Powers. I should 
prefer to write a dirge for them. The super-abun- 
dant display of vitality, which takes the form of 
knocking, hammering, and tumbling things about, has 
proved a daily torment fco me all my life long. There 
are people, it is true nay, a great many people who 
smile at such things, because they are not sensitive to 
noise ; but they are just the very people who are also 
not sensitive to argument, or thought, or poetry, or 
art, in a word, to any kind of intellectual influence. 
The reason of it is that the tissue of their brains 
is of a very rough and coarse quality. On the other 
hand, noise is a torture to intellectual people. In 
the biographies of almost all great writers, or 
wherever else their personal utterances are recorded, 
I find complaints about it ; in the case of Kant, 
for instance, Goethe, Lichtenberg, Jean Paul ; and if 
it should happen that any writer has omitted to 
express himself on the matter it is only for want 
of an opportunity. 

This aversion to noise I should explain as follows : 
If you cut up a large diamond into little bits, it 
will entirely lose the value it had as a whole ; and 
an army divided up into small bodies of soldiers 
loses all its strength. So a great intellect sinks to 



the level of an ordinary one as soon as it is interrupted 
and disturbed, its attention distracted and drawn oil 
from the matter in hand ; for its superiority depends 
upon its power of concentration of bringing all its 
strength to bear upon one theme, in the same way as 
a concave mirror collects into one point all the rays of 
light that strike upon it. Noisy interruption is a 
hindrance to this concentration. That is why dis- 
tinguished minds have always shown such an extreme 
dislike to disturbance in any form, as something that 
breaks in upon and distracts their thoughts. Above 
ill have they been averse to that violent interruption 
that comes from noise. Ordinary people are not 
much put out by anything of the sort. The most 
sensible and intelligent of all the nations in Europe 
lays down the rule, Never interrupt ! as the eleventh 
commandment. Noise is the most impertinent of all 
forms of interruption. It is not only an interruption, 
also a disruption of thought. Of course, where 
there is nothing to interrupt, noise will not be so 
particularly painful. Occasionally it happens that 
some slight but constant noise continues to bother 
and distract me for a A ime before I become distinctly 
conscious of it. All I feel is a steady increase in the 
labour of thinking just as though I were trying to 
walk with a weight on my foot. At last I find out 
what it is. 

Let me now, however, pass from genus to speciea 
The most inexcusable and disgraceful of all noises is 
the cracking of whips a truly infernal thing when it 
is done in the narrow resounding streets of a town. 
I denounce it as making a peaceful life impossible ; 

ON NOISE. 129 

it puts an end to all quiet thought. That this 
ing of whips should be allowed at all seems to me to 
show in the clearest way how senseless and thought- 
less is the nature of mankind. No one with anything 
like an idea in his head can avoid a feeling of actual 
pain at this sudden, sharp crack, which paralyses the 
brain, rends the thread of reflection, and murders 
thought. Every time this noise is made it must disturb 
a hundred people who are applying their minds to 
business of some sort, no matter how trivial it may be ; 
while on the thinker its effect is woeful and disastrous, 
cutting his thoughts asunder, much as the execu- 
tioner's axe severs the head from the body, No 
sound, be it ever so shrill, cuts so sharply into the 
brain as this cursed cracking of whips ; you feel the 
sting of the lash right inside your head; and it 
affects the brain in the same way as touch affects a 
sensitive plant, and for the same length of time. 

With all due respect for the most holy doctrine of 
utility, I really cannot see why a fellow who is taking v 
away a waggon-load of gravel or dung should thereby 
obtain the right to kill in the bud the thoughts 
which may happen to be springing up in ten thousand 
heads the number he will disturb one after another 
in half an hour's drive through the town. Hammer- 
ing, the barking of dogs, and the crying of children 
are horrible sounds ; but your only genuine assassin 
of thought is the crack of a whip ; it exists for the 
purpose of destroying every pleasant moment of quiet 
thought that any one may now and then enjoy. If 
the driver had no other way of urging on his horse 
than by making this most abominable of all noises, it 



would be excusable ; but quite the contrary is the 
case. This cursed cracking of whips is not only un- 
necessary but even useless. Its aim is to produce an 
effect upon the intelligence of the horse ; but through 
the constant abuse of it the animal becomes habituated 
to the sound, which falls upon blunted feelings and 
produces no effect at all. The horse does not go any 
the faster for it. You have a remarkable example of 
this in the ceaseless cracking of his whip on the part 
of a cab-driver, while he is proceeding at a slow pace 
on the look-out for a fare. If he were to give his 
horse the slightest touch with the whip, it would 
have much more effect. Supposing, however, that 
it were absolutely necessary to crack the whip in 
order to keep the horse constantly in mind of its pres- 
ence, it would be enough to make the hundredth part 
of the noise. For it is a well-known fact that, in 
regard to sight and hearing, animals are sensitive to 
even the faintest indications ; they are alive to things 
that we can scarcely perceive. The most surprising 
instances of this are furnished by trained dogs and 

It is obvious, therefore, that here we have to do 
with an act of pure wantonness ; nay, with an impu- 
dent defiance offered to those members of the com- 
munity who work with their heads by those who 
work with their hands. That such infamy should be 
tolerated in a town is a piece of barbarity and 
iniquity, all the more as it could easily be remedied 
by a police-notice to the effect that every lash shall 
have a knot at the end of it There can be no 
harm in drawing the attention of the mob to the fact 

ON NOISE. 131 

that the classes above them work with their heads, 
for any kind of head work is mortal anguish to the 
man in the street. A fellow who rides through the 
narrow alleys of a populous town with unemployed 
post-horses or cart-horses, and keeps on cracking a 
whip several yards long with all his might, deserves 
there and then to stand down and receive five really 
good blows with a stick. All the philanthropists in 
the world, and all the legislators, meeting to advocate 
and decree the total abolition of corporal punishment, 
will never persuade me to the contrary ! There is 
something even more disgraceful than what I have 
just mentioned. Often enough you may see a carter 
walking along the street, quite alone, without any 
horses, and still cracking away incessantly ; so 
accustomed has the wretch become to it in consequence 
of the unwarrantable toleration of this practice. A 
man's body and the needs of his body are now every- 
where treated with a tender indulgence. Is the 
thinking mind, then, to be the only thing that is never 
to obtain the slightest measure of consideration or 
protection, to say nothing of respect ? Carters, 
porters, messengers these are the beasts of burden 
amongst mankind ; by all means let them be treated 
justly, fairly, indulgently, and with forethought ; but 
they must not be permitted to stand in the way of 
the higher endeavours of humanity by wantonly 
making a noise. How many great and splendid ^ 
thoughts, I should like to know, have been lost to 
the world by the crack of a whip ? If I had 
the upper hand, I should soon produce in the 
heads of these people an indissoluble association 


of ideas between cracking a whip and getting a 

Let us hope that the more intelligent and refined 
among the nations will make a beginning in this 
matter, and then that the Germans may take example 
by it and follow suit. 1 Meanwhile, I may quote what 
Thomas Hood says of them 2 : For a musical nation, 
they are the most noisy I ever met with. That they 
are so is due to the fact, not that they are more fond 
of making a noise than other people they would 
deny it if you asked them but that their senses are 
obtuse ; consequently, when they hear a noise, it does 
not affect them much. It does not disturb them in 
reading or thinking, simply because they do not think ; 
they only smoke, which is their substitute for thought. 
The general toleration of unnecessary noise the 
slamming of doors, for instance, a very unmannerly 
and ill-bred thing is direct evidence that the pre- 
vailing habit of mind is dulness and lack of thought. 
In Germany it seems as though care were taken that 
no one should ever think for mere noise to mention 
one form of it, the way in which drumming goes on 
for no purpose at all. 

Finally, as regards the literature of the subject 
treated of in this chapter, I have only one work to 
recommend, but it is a good one. I refer to a poetical 
epistle in terzo rimo by the famous painter Bronzino, 

1 According to a notice issued by the Society for the Protec- 
tion of Animals in Munich, the superfluous whipping and the 
cracking of whips were, in December, 1858, positively forbidden 
in Nuremberg. 

2 In Up the Rhine. 

ON NOISE. 133 

entitled De' Romori: a Messer Luca Martini. It 
gives a detailed description of the torture to which 
people are put by the various noises of a small Italian 
town. Written in a tragi-comic style it is very 
amusing. The epistle may be found in Opere burlesche 
del Berni, Aretino ed ctltri, Vol. II., p. 258 ; apparently 
published in Utrecht in 1771. 



IN a field of ripening corn I came to a place which 
had been trampled down by some ruthless foot ; and 
as I glanced amongst the countless stalks, every one 
of them alike, standing there so erect and bearing the 
full weight of the ear, I saw a multitude of different 
flowers, red and blue and violet. How pretty they 
looked as they grew there so naturally with their 
little foliage ! But, thought I, they are quite useless ; 
they bear no fruit ; they are mere weeds, suffered to 
remain only because there is no getting rid of them. 
And yet, but for these flowers, there would be nothing 
to charm the eye in that wilderness of stalks. They 
are emblematic of poetry and art, which, in civic life 
so severe, but still useful and not without its fruit 
play the same part as flowers in the corn. 

There are some really beautiful landscapes in the 
world, but the human figures in them are poor, and 
you had not better look at them. 

The fly ought to be used as the symbol of impertin- 
ence and audacity; for whilst all other animals shun 
man more than anything else, and run away even be- 
fore he comes near them, the fly lights upon his very 




Two Chinamen travelling in Europe went to the 
theatre for the first time. One of them did nothing 
but study the machinery, and he succeeded in finding 
out how it was worked. The other tried te get at the 
meaning of the piece in spite of his ignorance of the 
language. Here you have the Astronomer and the 

i i 

Wisdom which is only theoretical and never put 
into practice is like a double rose ; its colour and its 
perfume are delightful, but it withers away and leaves 
no seed. 

No rose without a thorn. Yes, but many a thorn 
without a rose. 

A wide-spreading apple-tree stood in full bloom, 
and behind it a straight fir raised its dark and tapering 
head. Look at the thousands of gay blossoms which 
cover me everywhere, said the apple-tree ; what have 
you to show in comparison? Dark-green needles/ 
That is true, replied the fir, but when winter comes, 
you will be bared of your glory ; and I shall be as I 
am now. 

Once, as I was botanising under an oak, I found 
amongst a number of other plants of similar height 
one that was dark in colour, with tightly closed leaves 
and a stalk that was very straight and stiff. When I 
touched it, it said to me in firm tones : Let me alone ; 
I am not for your collection, like these plants to which 


Nature has given only a single year of life. I am a 
little oak. 

So it is with a man whose influence is to last for 
hundreds of years. As a child, as a youth, often even 
as a full-grown man, nay, his whole life long, he goes 
about among his fellows, looking like them and seem- 
ingly as unimportant. But let him alone; he will 
not die. Time will come and bring those who know 
how to value him. 

The man who goes np in a balloon does not feel as 
though he were ascending ; he only sees the earth 
sinking deeper and deeper under him. 

This is a mystery which only those will understand 
who feel the truth of it 

Your estimation of a man's size will be affected by 
the distance at which you stand from him, but in two 
entirely opposite ways according as it is his physical or 
his mental stature that you are considering. The one 
will seem smaller, the farther off you move ; the other, 

Nature covers all her works with a varnish of beauty, 

like the tender bloom that is breathed, as it were, on 
the surface of a peach or a plum. Painters and poets 
lay themselves out to take off this varnish, to store it 
up, and give it us to be enjoyed at our leisure. We 
drink deep of this beauty long before we enter upon 
life itself ; and when afterwards we come to see the 
works of Nature for ourselves, the varnish is gone ; 
the artists have used it up and we have enjoyed it in 


advance. Thus it is that the world so often appears 
harsh and devoid of charm, nay, actually repulsive. 
It were better to leave us to discover the varnish for 
ourselves. This would mean that we should not enjoy 
it all at once and in large quantities ; we should have 
no finished pictures, no perfect poems ; but we should 
look at all things in that genial and pleasing light in 
which even now a child of Nature sometimes sees 
them some one who has not anticipated his aesthetic 
pleasures by the help of art, or taken the charms of 
life too early. 

The Cathedral in Mayence is so shut in by the 
houses that are built round about it that there is no 
one spot from which you can see it as a whole. This 
is symbolic of everything great or beautiful in the 
world. It ought to exist for its own sake alone, but 
before very long it is misused to serve alien ends, 
People come from all directions wanting to find in it 
support and maintenance for themselves ; they stand 
in the way and spoil its effect. To be sure, there is 
nothing surprising in this, for in a world of need and 
imperfection everything is seized upon which can be 
used to satisfy want. Nothing is exempt from this 
service, no, not even those very things which arise 
only when need and want are for a moment lost sight 
of the beautiful and the true, sought for their own 

This is especially illustrated and corroborated in 
the case of institutions whether great or small, 
wealthy or poor, founded, no matter in what century 


or in what land, to maintain and advance human 
knowledge, and generally to afford help to those in- 
tellectual efforts which ennoble the race. Wherever 
these institutions may be, it is not long before people 
sneak up to them under the pretence of wishing to 
further those special ends, while they are really led 
on by the desire to secure the emoluments which 
have been left for their furtherance, and thus to 
satisfy certain coarse and brutal instincts of their 
own. Thus it is that we come to have so many 
charlatans in every branch of knowledge. The char- 
latan takes very different shapes according to circum- 
stances ; but at bottom he is a man who cares nothing 
about knowledge for its own sake, and only strives to 
gain the semblance of it that he may use it for his 
own personal ends, which are always selfish and 


Every hero is a Samson. The strong man succumbs 
to the intrigues of the weak and the many ; and if in 
the end he loses all patience he crushes both them 
and himself. Or he is like Gulliver at Liliput, over- 
whelmed by an enormous number of little men. 

A mother gave her children ^Esop's fables to read, 
in the hope of educating and improving their minds ; 
but they very soon brought the book back, and the 
eldest, wise beyond his years, delivered himself as 
follows : This is no book for us ; it's much too child- 
ish and stupid. You can't make us believe that foxes 
and wolves and ravens are able to talk; we've got 
beyond stories of that kind ! 


In these young hopefuls you have the enlightened 
Rationalists of the future. 

A number of porcupines huddled together for 
warmth on a cold day in winter ; but, as they began 
to prick one another with their quills, they were 
obliged to disperse. However the cold drove them 
together again, when just the same thing happened. 
At last, after many turns of huddling and dispersing, 
they discovered that they would be best off by re- 
maining at a little distance from one another. In 
the same way the need of society drives the human 
porcupines together, only to be mutually repelled by 
the many prickly and disagreeable qualities of their 
nature. The moderate distance which they at last 
discover to be the only tolerable condition of inter- 
course is the code of politeness and fine manners; 
and those who transgress it are roughly told in the 
English phrase to keep their distance. By this 
arrangement the mutual need of warmth is only very 
moderately satisfied; but then people do not get 
pricked. A man who has some heat in himself pre- 
fers to remain outside, where he will neither prick 
other people nor get pricked himself. 




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